BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

18 September 2014
Accessibility help
Family History

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Go further


An Introduction to the Census Returns of England & Wales by Susan Lumas (Federation of Family History Societies, 1992). A useful introduction about interpreting census returns.

A Clearer Sense of the Census by E Higgs (London, 1996). Another important guide that summarises the subject.

Census Returns 1841-1891 on Microform: A Directory to Local Holdings by JSW Gibson and M Walcot (Federation of Family History Societies, 1997). Provides a list of institutions that hold census returns locally.


The National Archives: Links to the Family Records Centre and the Office of National Statistics sites for advice and leaflets on certificate research. Access to archives is also a very useful part of the site for archive work.

Practical Family History: A national magazine with useful articles on tracing ancestors, plus links to many other sites concerning research and genealogy.

Scots Origins: Provides an index to the 1891 Scottish census, as well as other major genealogical sources.

The Church of the Latter Day Saints: A religious organisation that compiles the International Genealogical Index, including English parish registers (the website permits a search for relatives on the index). The organisation also publishes the entire 1881 census on CD.

Places to visit

The Family Records Centre, Myddelton Street, London. Tel: 020 8 392 5300. A major genealogy resource and an important institution in its own right. You can pick up research leaflets, or view their introductory exhibition on family history sources.

General Register Office of Scotland: Located in Edinburgh, and holds indexes to Scottish certificates.

National Library of Wales: Located in Aberystwyth, and holds copies of indexes for Welsh certificates, plus copies of most parish registers in Wales.

Borthwick Institute: Located in York, and holds wills registered in the Prerogative Court of York, plus other genealogical sources.

In addition to these national institutions, you should also try to visit your local county record office, where you will find all relevant parish registers. Most will also stock copies of census returns on film or fiche, and some have selected indexes to birth, marriage and death certificates. Locally registered wills may also be stored there.

[The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.]

Published: 14-09-2004

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy