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Wood's Guide to Public Record Office of Ireland

Wood's Guide to Public Record Office of Ireland

The year 1919 saw the publication of a notable archival work, Herbert Wood’s

Guide to the Records Deposited in the Public Record Office of Ireland. Nearly all

the records in the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) would be destroyed a mere

three years later in 1922, so that the Guide is essential to understanding what was lost

in 1922 and what may be reconstituted.

Herbert Wood was born in London in 1860 and graduated from Oxford University

in 1883. In 1884 he joined the staff of the PROI in Dublin and rose to the position of

Deputy Keeper in 1921. Wood was assigned the task of compiling a guide to the PROI and

after delay caused by World War I, saw it published in 1919. Wood’s Guide summarises

the holdings of the PROI under the headings of court, parliamentary, state, ecclesiastical,

testamentary, jurisdictional, commission and miscellaneous records, including the census

returns of 1821-51.

In June 1922 most of the contents of the PROI were destroyed in the Four Courts

complex during the Irish Civil War. Although he resigned as Deputy Keeper in

1923, Wood maintained his interest in Irish public records and sought to help in the

work of archival reconstruction, identifying transcripts, published material and

substitutes. This work continues today,greatly assisted by the development of

digitisation and the Internet. Wood died in Bath in 1955 and despite the tragedy of 1922

ranks as one of Ireland’s foremost archivists. Wood's Guide is now republished here with biographical details of the author and an analytical preface.

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