A research project conducted by Britain's Sheffield, Hertfordshire and Open universities has digitized and published the records of 197,745 trials held at London's Old Bailey criminal court between 1673 and 1913.

Commenting on the archive, The Economist suggests that the resource allows folks to research their ancestors' darker past:

Scouring the online archives of the Old Bailey, London's most famous criminal court, shows that some of today's crimes are not as new as they may seem. Take villains such as Pierre Dubois and Armand Dibon, a pair of child-sex traffickers who lured a 15-year-old French girl to London in 1902. And there is plenty of anti-social behaviour: as soon as steam trains arrived in the 19th century, the Old Bailey filled up with youths charged with throwing bricks at them… The free archive is a goldmine for family-tree growers, who may discover they are related to such unfortunates as Henry Williams, who in 1886 was sentenced to four months' hard labour for “attempting an abominable crime with a mare”.

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