Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Research your local, family or house history

Are you interested in history but unsure how to find out more? You might want to discover more about the history of your family, local area or house. Find out how to get started and what sources of information you can use.

Researching your family history

Ask your family

The best way to start researching your family history is usually by speaking to family members and finding out what knowledge already exists.

Search for ancestors online

The next step is to get online. There are many websites where you can search for your ancestors, share information about your family history and make contact with other researchers. These include GENUKI, FreeBMD, RootsChat and commercial sites where you can view digitised records.

Other online resources

Before you visit a library or archive, try using their website, as the information you are looking for may be online. The National Archives’ website has a section on looking for a person which will point you towards a range of useful sources.

You can use the Federation of Family History Societies website to find details of family history societies and other groups that you can join.

Birth, death and marriage certificates

Government registers of births, deaths and marriages can be a useful way of tracing your family history. See 'Using the General Register Office to research family history' to find out how to get details of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales going back to 1837.

You can order birth, marriage and death certificates from the General Register Office. However, you cannot order or view these certificates at The National Archives.

More on Cross & Stitch

For more information about tracing your ancestors, see 'Family history and research'.

Local and house history research

The best place to begin local history research is usually in the area you are interested in. Most county councils, unitary authorities and some large town councils have a record office, an archive service or a local studies library.

Before you travel, it’s a good idea to see what information your council has available online.

ARCHON directory

The National Archives’ ARCHON Directory includes contact details for places where records are kept in the United Kingdom. It also contains details of organisations elsewhere in the world that have substantial collections of manuscripts. You can use the ARCHON Directory to find out what services are available in your area.

National Monuments Record

English Heritage holds an archive of over 10 million photographs, documents, plans and reports about the historic environment in England in the National Monuments Record.

You can search an index of records online or contact the National Monuments Record by phone or fax.

Research cemeteries and burial records

Contact your local council for more information on looking up burial records.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Local council services online

Report a faulty street light, find school term dates and more...

Access keys