Family history records - what's held where?

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01 June 2019
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Find out where records including the census, birth, marriage & death records, and parish records are kept with this guide to finding family tree archives.

Find out where records including the census, birth, marriage & death records, and parish records are kept with this guide to finding family tree archives.

Although many family history records can be found online, thousands more are kept in archives and record offices around the UK. Some of these have been digitised but many more may not appear online for many years. This guide shows what information can be found where, along with a helpful video guide from The National Archives showing how to get started exploring these records.

Family history records at the General Register Office

The General Register Office in London holds:

  • Birth, marriage & death records
  • Adoption records

You can order birth, marriage, death, adoption and civil partnership certificates from the GRO for £9.25 each or (at the time of writing) a PDF for £6.

Where to find wills

You can find wills proved after 1858 at the Probate Service. Before this date wills were not kept centrally and so you will need to track down which church court proved the will and then explore the records at The National Archives.

Family history records held by local archives

Local archives around the country hold a wealth of records relating to family history and these can be explored using the National Archives' Discovery catalogue. These records include:

  • School records
  • Records kept by hospitals and workhouses
  • House and estate history
  • Electoral registers
  • Local businesses

Watch the video

(Video copyright The National Archives. For more family history videos, visit their website.

How to Start your Family Tree

This collected edition of beginner features is packed full of expert tips, how-to advice and lots of ideas for starting your family tree from scratch and writing up your family history.

With this guide, you could soon trace your ancestors back to the Victorian era and beyond. 

• Exploring birth, marriage & death records
• How to use the census
• Caring for your precious documents & photos
• How to write up up the story of your family
• Why join a family history society?

Buy now!

(image copyright Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein)