Resources for Family History: Local Libraries


If you are looking for a great place to find information on your family history then your local library (or the library where your family originated) can be a great starting point. They are free to use and quite often have accumulated a lot of information. Many also offer access to sites such as Ancestry for just their normal charge for using the computers. This is a lot cheaper than subscribing for yourself unless you want to use it every day! You may also be able to borrow books which give advice on researching your family tree or local history books.

Before you set out it is worthwhile checking what sources you will be to access so that you have a clear plan of action. For example on the Cumbria County Council web site there is a whole page listing which libraries have local and family history sources in them. Also check on their opening times so you don’t turn up on early closing day!

My local library in Kendal is quite a large one and so contains quite a lot of useful records and other research materials:

  • a fee based research service
  • Registrar General’s Indexes from 1837 (microform)
  • Registrar General for Scotland’s Computerised Index from 1855
  • 1841-1901 census for Westmorland on fiche
  • Ancestrylibrary.co.uk – free* access through the libraries computers to the 1841-1901 census for the whole of England, Wales and Scotland *normal computer charges apply; £1.00 per half hour, usual concessions
  • County and Regional Directories: Various dates for Westmorland from 1829-1938. A few for Furness and Cumberland
  • City and Town Directories: Kendal 1953, 1963, 1965, 1974
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI): 1992 edition on microfiche
  • Card index for ephemeral files and photographs
  • Parish registers: a small number of transcripts
  • Maps: 1st edition O.S. series 6″ and 25″ to 1 mile (incomplete sets)
  • Westmorland 2nd edition O.S. series 6″ and 25″ to 1 mile (incomplete sets)
  • Westmorland Plus later maps.
  • Photographs.
  • Newspapers on microfilm.

Not all libraries have such a wide range but others have even more. Go and check them out and get your family tree growing.

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