Ten places to find your Yorkshire ancestors


16 September 2016
11004611574_e26047c7d5_k-93838.jpg 19th-century Yorkshire map
Find your Yorkshire ancestors with our guide to 10 top places to carry out your family history research.

1. North Yorkshire County Record Office

This record office holds millions of records relating to the historic North Riding of the county of Yorkshire. The archives date from the 12th century to the present day and include parish records from 300 parishes, court records from the 16th century onwards, the North Riding Registry of Deeds from 1736 to 1970 and historic maps and plans of North Yorkshire.

76-86 Malpas Road, Northallerton; tel: 01609 777585; website.

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2. Second World War Experience Centre

A collection of letters, books, photographs and memorabilia relating to life in the Second World War, covering the experiences of both military and civilians. The collections cover war at sea, on land and in the air; the war as experienced by civilians; and wartime memorials.

Unit 1A, Rudgate Court, Wetherby LS23 7BF; tel: 01937 541274; website.

3. Sheffield Archives

Sheffield Archives records date from the 12th century and cover not just the history of Sheffield, but of a wider area of South Yorkshire and neighbouring North Derbyshire.

The records cover topics including religion, charities & voluntary organisations, hospitals, schools and country estates.

52 Shoreham Street, Sheffield S1 4SP; tel: 0114 203 9395; website.

4. The Borthwick Institute for Archives

The Borthwick is one of the UK’s most important archives, with thousands of records relating to York and Yorkshire. Most of the wills proven in Yorkshire can be found here, as well as the records of important businesses in the county, including Rowntrees of York and Terrys of York. There are also many records relating to York families, and to Yorkshire societies and charities.

University of York, Heslington YO10 5DD; tel: 01904 321166; website.

5. University of Leeds Special Collections

The collections here include more than 200,000 books and thousands of manuscripts which have been donated to the library over the years, including material from the libraries of the Yorkshire Quakers. Highlights include the Romany Collection, the Yorkshire Collection, an archive of vernacular culture and a cookery collection with recipes from the 15th century to the present day.

The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT; tel: 0113 343 5518; website.

6. West Yorkshire Archive Service

West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) has record offices at Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Leeds, as well as the West Yorkshire History Centre, due to open in January 2017 in Wakefield. WYAS holds millions of records relating to West Yorkshire, including the West Riding Registry of Deeds with three centuries of property records.

Among the highlights are corner’s records, police records, thousands of maps, workhouse records and the archives of schools, hospitals and places of work.

West Yorkshire History Centre, Kirkgate, Wakefield WF1 1JW; tel: 01924 305980; website.

7. York Minster Library

England’s largest cathedral has over 120,000 volumes in its collections, including the Yorkshire Collections which comprise over 20,000 books and pamphlets relating to the county. The library also holds a bibliographical database of the names of over 500,000 Yorkshire people pre-1500.

Dean’s Park, York YO1 2JQ; tel: 0844 939 0021; website.

8. Yorkshire Archaeological Society

The YAS, founded in 1863, exists to promote the study of Yorkshire’s past, including the agriculture, archaeology, industry and religion of Yorkshire people. The maps include Yorkshire maps, surveys, letters, manuscripts, diaries, manorial records and the archives of prominent Yorkshire families including the Ferrands of St Ives, the Cliffords of Skipton Castle and the Fawkes of Farnley Hall (the family of gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes).

c/o The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT; tel: 0113 343 5518; website.

9. Yorkshire Film Archive

Over a century of film archive relating to life, work and religion across Yorkshire. The collections, which continue to grow each year, are particularly strong on farming and industry.

Lord Mayor’s Walk, York YO31 7EX; tel: 01904 876550; website.

10. Federation of Family History Societies

Access specialist knowledge and records, and meet like-minded Yorkshire family historians by joining a Yorkshire family history society. These groups publish family history material, meet for talks and outings and several have their own research facilities.

Yorkshire has dozens of family history societies and you can find details on the FFHS website.

Rachel Bellerby is the author of Tracing Your Yorkshire Ancestors, published by Pen & Sword.

(Bradford postcard copyright Tuck DB Postcards)

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