Archives, Libraries and Museums
Lincolnshire has a rich archival store. Don't overlook any of these. The Lincolnshire Archives are located at:
The Archives also publish an historical gazetteer and a CD-ROM detailing many of the indexes and sources available for research.
Because traditional Lincolnshire has been split in recent years by political boundary reorganisation, the North East portion was once part of a separate political entity (Humberside) and had its own Record Office and Archive. That RO and Archive were in Grimsby and continue to operate as the NE Lincolnshire Archive. The nearby Grimsby Library have the GRO Index (formerly St. Catherine's) of Civil Registration from 1837. The Archive location is:
The Lincolnshire Library has many services, including a web page devoted to Family History services.
The North Lincolnshire Library also has a wealth of Family History records and archives, particularly for surrounding parishes:
The Spalding Library has local parish census returns and other records. Don't forget to check their archive of Spalding area newspapers (The Spalding Standard 1912-1916; The Spalding Guardian; Holbeach, Long Sutton & Sutton Bridge Advertiser 1881 - present):
Access the British Library Public Catalogue to search for historical reference material.
Many Lincolnshire records and UK-wide information is stored at the Public Record Office. There is an online index for searching at the National Archives.
- Estate Duty Office Indexes to Death Duty Registers 1796 to 1903.
- Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Sea 1854 to 1890.
- Index to Divorce and Matrimonial Causes 1858 to 1903.
- Registers of Names of Passport Applications 1851 to 1903.
- More to come...
Volunteers at your local Family History Centre Libraries are available to help you with your search.
The WorldGenWeb maintains Project Archives for public review.
Local museums can hold a surprising hoard of family history information, parish records, photographs, etc.:
In Grimsby, one should check these:
- The Fishing Museum (actually the "National Fishing Heritage Centre") with many photographs and artifacts from that industry.
- The Welholme Galleries, which started converting to a local history museum in 1999.
- Telephone the Council at 01472 313131 to confirm dates and times open.
In the south of Lincolnshire, look into the resources at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum:
There are three kinds of Libraries in Lincolnshire:
- County Libraries, funded and staffed by the Lincolnshire County Council.
- Community Libraries, funded locally and often staffed entirely by volunteers.
- Special Focus Libraries, funded locally, often with two or three professional staff and a group of volunteers. These may have an occupational focus, like Framework Knitters, Coal Miners or Fishermen, or they may be built around the collection of a particular mansion or militry entity. Some have a "regional" focus, like the Fens or the Wolds.
You should always ask or look to see if there is a Local Studies Section in any library that interests you.
The key to making your search more rewarding is planning. Here are some preparation ideas from Kath Heywood and myself:
- For most archives you will need 2 passport-sized photos with you for your ID (Reader Card or Reader Ticket) and something with a signature on it, like a cheque card or credit card or passport. A Reader Ticket may be good for several years.
- Some Archives are now using the CARN system (County Archives Research Network) for reader cards, but many do it the old-fashioned way. Once you have a CARN card, it can be used in any of the record offices that use CARN.
- Get an open clip-board and an A4 notepad and a couple of pencils. The Lincolnshire Archives now only allows a "reporters notebook" size of pad so that you don't "inadvertently" get any documents slipping between pages of your foolscap/A4 pad. Archives may only allow you a few sheets of loose paper for note-taking. Some Archives are now banning pens due to the marks left behind on precious originals.
- Some Archives forbid the use of digital cameras (or any use of flash). If you plan to photograph old records, get permission first and offer the Archives copies of all your images.
- Write up or print on loose paper as much as you can about the details you are seeking. Some people like to do the easy searches first, so they can get familiar with the archive holdings, others start with the hardest searches because they know their time is limited. But the key item is to organize your search on paper.
- Ring the search room in advance and book a fiche (or film) reader. People with reservations have first priority.
- In some facilities you may need to book a reading table as well, if you are going to be ordering documents from the stores.
- When you get to the Archives, you'll probably be told to put everything but the clipboard in a locker. That's why you need your search plan on the clipboard. But having your family binder(s) in the locker or in your car make it possible for you to confirm other findings.
- Mobile phones and buzzing pagers are almost as popular as people who smoke! Turn your ringers/buzzers off before entering the search room. Some archives (like the Lincoln Archive) ask that you put cellphones in the external storage lockers.
- Take plenty of change. It's a shame not to be able to make copies because you can't make change. (Note: many archives take cheques or credit cards, but not all.)
- Typically, few of the fiche readers are attached to printers. If you want to print anything out you have to buy tokens and use another machine.
- Many records are available in open, public access. If you need to look at specific documents not open to direct access, fill in a slip for them as soon as you arrive as they can take a while to be brought out for you. Some archived documents are NFP (Not for Production) bedcause of their fragile state.
- Don't get overwhelmed by all the material there. You may find things that "sidetrack" your research. Make notes of these and continue to use your pre-printed plan to pursue what you came for.
- Make sure that each page of your notes is headed with the document reference. When you get home, things may not be in the order you expected. And record "not found" experiences, too.
- The staff at the archives will appreciate your "Please, may I ..." and "Thank you" approach to doing business. Remember that in some facilities, a large percentage of the staff are volunteers.