How to find your Liverpool ancestors for free
Trace your family history for free and discover the lives and times of your Liverpool ancestors with this round-up of free of charge online resources.
1 Echoes of Liverpool
Echoes of Liverpool is an online collection of oral history, newspaper stories and links to other family history sites that could help you explore the lives of your Liverpool kin. There are tales of life in the city in the 1920s and 30s, the story of the ‘docker VC’ William Ratcliffe, and nineteenth-century newspaper reports including the Irish Famine and Christmas in the workhouse.
2 Old Mersey Times
A free online collection of transcribed newspaper collections covering life in Liverpool and Merseyside over the decades. There is a keyword search facility or you can browse the many categories, from births and bankruptcies to schools and shipping. Many of the categories also have links to other family history and local history sites.
3 Liverpool Record Office
Housed within Liverpool Central Library, Liverpool Record Office is open seven days a week (although the archive search room is closed on Sundays) and is free to use. A free family history helpdesk is held every Tuesday from 1.30pm to 4pm and it’s also possible to take your query further with a paid-for research service.
Access Ancestry and FindMyPast genealogy websites for free on the PCs and you can also consult original materials within the archives and family history collections at the search room. Records include photographs, maps, newspapers, family papers, hospital & school records and business & trade collections and from the thirteenth century onwards. Please note that you need an appointment to use the search room and consult original records. The archive catalogue is available online.
For full details on using the search room visit the website.
4 Lancashire BMD
Until boundary reforms of 1974, Liverpool was part of Lancashire rather than Merseyside, therefore Lancashire records are very much part of genealogy research when looking for records of the people of bygone Liverpool. This ongoing project involves members of the county’s family history societies acting as volunteers and collaborating with the local registration services to make indexes to the records of births, marriages and deaths freely available, with the aim of eventually including all Lancashire BMD records from 1837 onwards.
At the time of writing there are almost 11 million births, 4.5 million marriages and 6.5 million deaths, with new records being added on a regular basis, so be sure to check back if your initial searches draw a blank.
5 Liverpool City Police
This web resource and virtual gallery is dedicated to the men and women who have served the city of Liverpool over the years. Liverpool City Police was formed in 1836 and since then has undergone four name changes (Liverpool Constabulary, Liverpool City Police, Bootle Constabulary and Merseyside Police).
The site is divided into articles, memories and photo galleries and the team welcome new contributions from members of the public. Useful topics for those researching ancestors in the force include the gallery of police cadets, articles on strikes and disasters, spotlights on the various police departments and decades-worth of newspaper articles.
6 Mapping the History of Liverpool
Explore old maps, discover how Liverpool looked in centuries gone by, and follow changes to the city on this interactive map site. The interactive maps allow you to zoom in on areas of interest, in some cases pinpoint individual houses and streets, and access data and photographs to research in more detail.
You can see Liverpool’s historic townships, listed buildings, historic sites, and the city’s parishes as at 1851. The old maps section focuses mainly on the 19th century and also covers the suburbs. The site also hosts a blog on history events and discoveries.
7 Museum of Liverpool collections
The social and community history collections held at Museum of Liverpool reflect the changing history of Liverpool and cover topics including labour history, public health, entertainment and working life. There are photos, artefacts, oral history recordings, drawings, books and manuscripts – and many items are displayed via a changing programme of exhibitions at the museum.
Researchers are welcome to visit by appointment.
8 Lancashire Online Parish Clerk
A project that aims to extract and preserve historic Lancashire records and make them freely available online. All of the data is compiled and transcribed by volunteers, with records being added to the site regularly. Records include parish registers, census and cemetery records, churchwardens accounts, land tax records and postal directories.
There is an alphabetical index to the records and you can also search by first name, surname, type of record, year and location.
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(image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)