More than six million Manchester parish records, dating back as far as 1538, can be now viewed online for free at Manchester Libraries.
The collection of records, which has been digitised by leading family history website Ancestry.co.uk, details baptisms, marriages and burials that took place at Anglican churches in the Diocese of Manchester from the 16th century until the twentieth century.
The online records have already received nearly 400,000 hits since going live on 7 February.
A free launch event for the newly digitised collection will be held on Thursday 14 February (11am - 2pm) in the Manchester Room at City Library on Deansgate. Ancestry.co.uk staff, plus volunteers from the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society, will be on hand to help people as they search the records for their family members.
The Manchester Parish Registers (1541-1985) is one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind available online and will be an invaluable resource for anybody looking to trace their ancestors back before the 19th century. As well as including records of famous names like Emmeline Pankhurst and Thomas De Quincey, the collection covers times of key historical events, including the Industrial Revolution and the Lancashire Cotton Famine. The collection is available to search for free at any Manchester City Council library.
Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: "We have made 450 years of Manchester’s history accessible to anyone who wants to discover more about their family heritage, for free at any Manchester library. By searching our digital archives, people with Mancunian roots could uncover fascinating facts about their family history."
Miriam Silverman, UK Senior Content Manager at Ancestry.co.uk, said: "Spanning nearly half a millennium, these fascinating parish records track the progression of the North West across a period of great industrial, political and social upheaval."