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UK and Ireland: Archives and Libraries

National Collections

Bevan, Amanda, (Ed.). Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office (6th ed.), The National Archives. [ISBN 1903365341]
["This is a new, revised edition of the best-selling guide. Now in its sixth edition, Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office continues to provide comprehensive guidance to all researchers, new or experienced, wishing to trace their forebears among the records of government or courts held at The National Archives. It leads the reader through the census and military service records, wills and lawsuits, court rolls and hearth taxes and all other records where our ancestors may have left their tracks. . . this new revised edition provides information on this and many other releases of records at the National Archives, including army, navy, merchant navy and immigration records. New information about how to access the records via the catalogue is also provided."]
  • The National Archives in Kew brings together the Public Records Office (PRO) and the Historical Manuscripts Commission, and is the principal repository for English and Welsh records. (Note: most Scottish records are held in the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh, and Northern Ireland Records are held by The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).)
    • Copies of the National Archives' information leaflets are now available online, as is their very useful catalogue.
    • The National Archives' Looking for a Person? resource listing - "Each guide tells you where you can find, access and understand the relevant records".
    • Their Manorial Documents Register identifies the location of manorial documents.
    • Your Archives - "The National Archives' online community of records users", a wiki that archive users can contribute to: "These pages are for you to contribute your knowledge of archival sources held by The National Archives and by other archives throughout the UK."
    • The National Archives publishes a useful free enewsletter giving "monthly updates on recently released government files, newly digitised records, and new online resources".
  • Quick animated guides to using the National Archives.
  • The British Library's collections may be regarded as the world's finest; the range and effectiveness of the services it provides on the basis of these collections are without rival. Their web pages give access to their comprehensive online catalogues including the British Library Public Catalogue, as well as providing full details of the library's services and facilities.
  • Helpers - the University of London's web resource intended to help family and local historians utilise Higher Education libraries & archives.

Listings and Guides

  • The National Archives' "gateway to archival resources, projects and initiatives in the UK and abroad" has been transferred to the UNESCO Archives Portal.
  • COPAC is the Online Public Access Catalog, providing unified access to the online catalogs of some of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland.
  • The Archives Hub is a service run by MIMAS at Manchester Computing which provides free access to descriptions of archives held in the UK's universities and colleges. The descriptions can be searched in a number of ways and will form one part of the emerging UK National Archives Network.
  • LDS Family History Centres, (see also Guide to Researching Ancestors from the United Kingdom using the LDS Family History Center Resources, by Mark Howells.)
  • Culture 24, "Latest news, exhibition reviews, links, listings and education resources from thousands of UK museums, galleries, archives and libraries, all in one place".
  • A list of UK Public Libraries on the Web compiled by Sheila and Robert Harden.
  • Details of 1600 Museums, Galleries and Historic Houses provided by Britains Finest.
  • Museums around the UK on the Web provides a (far from complete) listing of museum websites arranged by county.
  • Details of Maritime and Naval Museums in Britain and Ireland provided by Dr Martin H. Evans and Dr Janet West. A Regional List is also available.
  • A list of Repositories of Primary Sources in the United Kingdom. (Provided by the University of Idaho.)
  • The British & Irish Archaeological Bibliography - "The biab online database contains datasets covering publications from AD 1695 to the present day on archaeology and the historic environment, historic buildings, maritime and industrial archaeology, environmental history, and the conservation of material culture" - nearly 200,000 references, as of June 2007.
  • Community Archives - set up on behalf of the National Council on Archives "to show the variety and quantity of community archives in the UK."

Specialist Collections