Searching for Historical Records
Before you jump in at the deep end to begin your research, here are a few tips.
- Don’t pay for information until you have a better grasp of genealogy and how to go about your research. Much of the information available online by subscription is also available free of charge when accessed in person at libraries and county record offices. You could also end up paying for information that is not yet relevant to the research you are currently undertaking.
- You should evaluate whether any money spent is worth the price of doing the physical research in person. If you are paying for records relating to the other side of the country to where you live and where it would take some trouble and time to travel there, then perhaps paying for the information is worth it.
You can trace Parish Records, Civil Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) records and many other historical documents such as censuses, Trade Directories, Electoral Registers, Rate Books etc in a number of ways.1. ONLINE
Either free of charge or for a fee. Some commercial organisations allow you to pay-as-you-go or you can subscribe for a number of weeks or months to access their resources.FREECommonwealth War Graves Commission
– search the debt of honour register for information on people serving with the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars.Ellis Island Passenger Lists
– search the famous Ellis Island records, the first port of call for anyone emigrating to the USA.FamilySearch
– the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A vast amount of parish registers have been indexed in its International Genealogical Index (IGI). This site is a very good starting point for pre-1837 records but it should not be a substitute for looking up the original parish record.Free BMD
– its aim is to transcribe the Civil Registration (GRO) Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales and to provide free internet access to the transcribed records. In some instances, part of the original index can be viewed as a digital image. It operates through the generosity of volunteer transcribers; therefore not all years have been transcribed as yet.GenUKI - UK & Ireland Genealogy
– the one-stop shop for all of your genealogical needs. Historical Directories
– a library of digital images of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919, compiled by the University of Leicester.Lancashire BMD
- search the local register office indexes for births, marriages and deaths since 1837. A resulting match will indicate which Register Office in Lancashire holds the record. To search other counties, use UK BMD
. It operates through the generosity of volunteer transcribers; therefore not all years have been transcribed as yet.
Online Parish Clerks
- for the County of Lancashire. Includes parish registers, census records, cemetery records, churchwardens’ accounts, overseers’ accounts, land tax records, wills, business directories, postal directories, church and village histories etc.
Please use this link for Online Parish Clerks - coverage of other counties
– funded by Ancestry.com, most of the content is free as its primary function is to connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research. You can join mailing lists and search message boards relating to surnames, places and occupations etc.
- free to search, but you need to subscribe in order to view the digital images. You can view the complete census records for England, Scotland and Wales (1841 to 1901) and search the complete civil Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes from 1837 to 2005. Other records include Military, Passenger & Immigration lists, Directories & Member Lists phone books, parish wills and local records and many more. An advantage of this site is that the digital records are the original images.Family Relatives
- You can view the complete GRO BMD Index from 1837 to 2005. Please use this link for more information on searching the Civil Registration Indexes
on this site.Find My Past
- formerly named 1837online.com, is free to search as is building an online family tree. To view the records you will need to purchase credits, either pay-per-view units or one of three subscription options. Includes the 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1891 censuses for England and Wales, an extensive collection of military records, a number of occupation directories and an electoral roll search.
It also has a database of Passenger lists with over 30 million records from ships sailing to destinations worldwide at Ancestors on board
. You can also search the complete civil Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes from 1837 to 2005. An advantage of this site is that the digital records are the original images. Genes Reunited
– works by connecting members through their family tree so the more relatives you add the more the site will be able to help. You can subscribe to a free Standard Membership, or a payable Full Membership. Not as much content for searching records as other sites, but useful for searching other members’ family trees.
As well as reading and reference books, libraries hold a wealth of other documents and information that is of interest to the Family Historian. Many libraries have indexes of the historical documents that they hold and some of the larger libraries also hold indexes for Parish Records. They may hold indexes for the Census years that relate to their own County and many have street and surname Census indexes for the town where the library is located.
You can look at Blackpool Council's Local Studies Collection
Click here for Lancashire County Council's County Library and Information Service
.The British Library catalogue
- its vast resources can help to put research into historical perspective.3. FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETIES
Many local Family History Societies compile indexes for the pre-1837 baptisms, burials and marriage within their area. If you join a Family History Society, for an annual fee you will receive help and free and/or reduced fee access to many records.
You will find useful information from the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society
To search for a Family History Society near you, please see the Federation of Family History Societies
.4. COUNTY RECORD OFFICES (CRO)
These offices enable free access to various records relating to the local government of the county, including indexes for Parish Records along with the original registers and sometimes the Bishop’s Transcripts. The majority of CROs belong to the County Archives Record Network (CARN) so you may be required to obtain a reader’s ticket in order to gain entry. Before you go, ascertain what proof of identity you will need. You can then use your ticket at other CROs.
Look at the Lancashire Record Office website
which holds historic documents relating to the county from about 1115 to the present day.
You can also search A2A – Access to Archives
– the National Archives portal which allows you to search and browse other repositories in England and Wales.5. THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES (TNA) The National Archives
situated at Kew in Richmond, Surrey holds records relating to national government. It produces a series of leaflets, available online, giving details of its holdings. It issues its own reader ticket. The TNA utilises a number of strategies for the public to access its records.
One of its website portals is the ARCHON Directory
which includes contact details for record repositories in the United Kingdom and also for institutions elsewhere in the world which have substantial collections of manuscripts noted under the indexes to the National Register of Archives.
Another of its websites is DocumentsOnline
which allows you to access The National Archives' collection of digitised public records held at Kew, including both academic and family history sources. Searching the index is free but there is a fee to download images.