Genealogy Resources

Table of Contents

The family historian frequently needs information other than that which directly concerns the subject of his/her research. The following are some suggestions on where this can be found.

Genealogy Tutorials

Pharos Teaching & Tutoring

A group of professional genealogists, all with experience of teaching in further and higher education, have combined to produce a series of online courses in family history research. The cost of the courses is modest in relation to their content, and in comparison with similar courses provided by colleges of further education. Each lesson is delivered by e-mail and consists of a straightforward account of a particular aspect of the subject; for example, Sources for census data in Scottish research. At the end of each lesson is a series of practical exercises which guide the student in the practical application of the techniques covered in the first section. A few days later, the students and tutor meet in a 'chat room' to review and discuss the previous lesson and the practical exercises. A copy of this discussion is delivered the next day, so that, at the end of the course, each student has copies of all the lessons and the corresponding discussions for future reference.

Having now completed one of these courses, I am confident that they would be a valuable experience to anyone at a novice or intermediate level in genealogy. Although I have been active in this field for a number of years, I was surprised at how much I learned.

LDS Family Search - Tutorials for England, Germany, Italy, Mexico and USA

This series of family history tutorials is produced by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and what they don't know about family history isn't worth knowing. Each course is illustrated with videos and handouts which you can download and keep.

Genlinks Genealogy Help

This is a wide ranging guide to UK genealogy which I highly recommend. It combines a great deal of useful reference material such as the dates of all the censuses, with very helpful 'how to do it' accounts. The comparison of genealogy software is particularly good, and should certainly be read by anyone thinking of changing their software or buying for the first time.

Basics of Genealogy Research

Finding Genealogy on the Internet

Essential Information for Genealogical Research

A-Z of British Genealogical Research

There are also tutorials on the LDS site and several other sites on this source list.

British Genealogy

This is a new tutorial site, which is still under construction. It is the work of Rod Neep who runs Archive CD Books Ltd., and is of quite outstanding quality. It begins with helpful guidance for the newcomer to genealogy, and keeps on going into areas which will be of interest to the experienced family historian, such as, the interpretation of 16thC handwriting and the design of databases for the transcription of parish records.
It also has a section on mailing lists with advice on etiquette and a large selection of lists. Whatever your level, you really should visit this site.

Genealogy Guide

This is a simple user friendly guide to researching your family tree, and an excellent introduction to any newcomer to genealogy.

Who Do You Think You Are?

A BBC guide to getting started in family history.

Barbara's Registration Web Page

A very comprehensive tutorial on all aspects of Civil Registration documents.

Wills and Probate Records

All you ever needed to know about wills and probate

English Probate (Pre 1858)

This is a web page from a site which is about Yorkshire genealogy, but gives a very good account of all aspects of probate for the family historian.

Institute of Genealogical Information Exchange

This is one for the advanced genealogist. It deals with the grammar and analysis of GEDCOMs, methods of transcribing anomalous data and other esoteric aspects of genealogical information exchange.

Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500 - 1800 A practical online tutorial

This is a really exceptional tutorial, with examples of writing styles throughout the period and an interactive section providing the opportunity to try your hand at reading them. In addition there is a great deal of information on the calendar, regnal years, numbers, money, measurements and the English counties.

Introduction to GEDCOM

A brief but handy description of the relationship between a family tree and the GEDCOM which represents it. This would be of interest to someone who already uses GEDCOMs but doesn't know much about how they work.

Gendatam - A Genealogical Data Model

Here you can find information on the data model itself, on ways in which Gendatam is supported and used, and also on some more general genealogical topics. This web site is intended particularly for those interested in the computing aspects of genealogy, either as users or as software developers.


Abbreviations and definitions for terms used in census returns. You might guess that Ag. Lab. is Agricultural Labourer, but do you know what H.P. stands for, or the difference between a boarder and a lodger? Now is your chance to find out.

From Your Ancestor's Mouth to Your Computer

Your ancestor's last name, first name, and other information, passed through many mouths, heads, hands, and fingers before appearing on your computer screen. This article discusses how all those passings could be causing you problems.

Cold Calling

This article discusses how to prepare for calling that distant relative you just learned about in order to ask them for family history information.

Family Tree DNA Tutorial

Increasing numbers of family historians are using DNA as a supplement to conventional genealogical research. If you are thinking of joining them and feel the need for some basic tuition in the subject. This site would be a good starting point.

DNA for Newbies

Here is another useful site for the newcomer to DNA based research.

Surnames, Genes and the History of Britain

This is an academic account by Prof. Mark A Jobling of research into the relationships between our DNA and our origins. It will be of particular interest to those who have chosen to use DNA as a tool in their family history research.

Family Relationship Chart

Newcomers to family history often find relationships difficult to understand, and meeting distant relatives via the internet can often leave one wondering "What on earth is a fourth cousin once removed". This chart is just about the clearest way I have seen of showing such relationships.

England & Wales Registration Certificate Tutorials

A detailed discussion of each item of information on Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates in England & Wales, written by a superintendent registrar of BDM of 20 years experience, specifically for family historians.

Amateur Genealogy

This is still work in progress, but looks like being a good starting point for the newcomer to family history, the sections on Starting Out and Research being particularly good. There is also an excellent database of surname origins which gives more detailed information than most such facilities.

Using land records to discover your genealogy

A vastly underused resource, land records are a wonderful source for both beginning and advanced genealogists. This article will offer tips on the type of information that can be found in land records as well as tips on how to locate land records.

General Genealogy

GENUKI (Genealogy, UK and Ireland)

This is a vast site with links to many of the sites on this list. It is too big to browse, but the hierarchical structure simplifies the job of finding what you want. Probably the most valuable single resource for the British genealogist.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet

A sort of world wide version of GENUKI, based in the USA. An enormous resource of genealogical information.

Price & Associates - English Family History & Genealogy

This is the most comprehensive collection of genealogy links that I have ever seen, other than this one!

A One-Step Portal for Online Genealogy by Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse provides a simple one-step way of accessing an amazing variety of free genealogy websites. This really is a powerful tool for the family historian.

Genealogical Web Addresses

This is an alphabetical list of URLs of particular interest to family historians.

Free Genealogy Search Help for Google

We all use Google, but perhaps most of us don't get the best out of it. This site comes up with search combinations that you would never have thought of - and guides you through them. Recommended for demolishing 'brick walls'.

Ancestor Search

Tips for using Google in Family history research.

Yet another approach to the problem of the intractable brick wall, this site, under the Expert Genealogy umbrella is worth a try - in fact try them all, you've nothing to lose.

World GenWeb Project

Another world wide genealogical resource, with some very useful local pages - for example:

Links to Ships Lists, Prison Records, Death Records & Census Records

A useful collection of links to a wide variety of sources.

World Families Network - Where Genealogy meets DNA

If you want to be at the cutting edge of scientific genealogy, this is where you can find a Surname DNA Project or start your own. World Families Network walks you through the process and helps you present your results. Surname DNA tests support or supplement traditional genealogy.

Local Catholic Church and Family History

Local Catholic Church and Family History

Looking 4 Kin Genealogy Links & Chat

The site consists of a Genealogy Chat Room, and a lot of useful links to local and international sources - a good place to go when you hit that brick wall.

OzGen - Genealogy for down under

This site has been designed to be a significant resource for all genealogists researching their family trees in Australia. For each state and territory in Australia, the site has an early history, important dates in the region's history and contact details for the appropriate government bodies, archives, registrars and family history societies that are so important when researching the family tree. This site also contains two important genealogical projects - the Australian Surnames Forum and the Church Photo Project.

ONS Names - Search the list

This is an extract of an Office of National Statistics database, and contains a list of surnames in use in England, Wales and the Isle of Mann in September 2002. The list contains almost 270,000 surnames, shared by 54.4 million people. You can discover how many others share your surname, and where it is ranked in a list beginning with Smith.

World Names Profiler

See the distribution of surnames around the world.

Surname Directory

A useful source of links to surname resources. Also includes links to Christian names and Heraldry.

Internet Surname Database

This is by far the best site I have found for the meanings and origins of surnames. I have tried it out with some quite tricky ones from my database, and it has performed very well, providing information which I had only previously been able to find by a great deal of Googling.

What's in a Name

This website will tell you where Personal Names, First Names or Given Names are thought to have originated and what they originally meant. It also records Variations, Pet Names, Diminutives and Abbreviations that you may have to consider when searching in genealogical databases and old records.

The Orange Hedgehog Surname Profiler

This is a useful site for surname distribution, though the Origin/Meaning section is often either very brief or blank.


This is another list of genealogy databases and links, but if you are looking at a brick wall, you need all the help you can get. It is just possible that there is a source in here that you won't find any other way, as they describe it as "The site for elusive genealogical facts"

Nicknames and Naming Traditions

Nicknames can be confusing for the family historian. Who would have thought that Daisy, Greta and Peggie are all nicknames for Margaret? So if you are trying to identify someone referred to in an old letter as Greta, you now know that she might be in your database as Margaret. This site gives hundreds of such examples arranged alphabetically.

"Real Names and Abbreviations"

This is part of the FreeReg website, but is worth accessing separately if you have any difficulty with the abbreviations and Latinised version of Christian names that are commonly found in old documents. You wouldn't necessarily guess that Gul. was a version of William or that Jac. Was James!

Amateur Genealogy

In addition to meanings, gives etymology, history, pronunciation, popularity and famous bearers.

Your Guide to Finding Female Ancestors

Genealogy records tend to concentrate on men. Women are not even given their own family names. So here is a site which collects together links to sources which suggest ways in which you can discover the distaff side of your family.

English Currency

Archaic and pre-decimalisation English currency can be very confusing for anyone researching British genealogy from abroad. This website tells all, from groats to guineas.

Day of the Week Calculator

It is sometimes useful for the family historian to be able to find the day of the week on which a particular event occurred. This is a very simple device for doing just that. A far more powerful program is available in the Software Section below, under the title "Calendar Magic".

The Calisto Calendar Program

Family historians are often confused by the difference between Julian and Gregorian calendars, and occasionally by other more exotic ones. This software, which is designed with the genealogist in mind, enables a simple comparison between these various dating methods.

Genealogy by DNA: Can it Deliver?

Description of various DNA tests available for Genealogy purposes and their value and appropriate application. Links to Genealogy testing resources.

DNA Related Resources

This site has articles on the use of DNA in genealogy and links to other related sites.

Hall Genealogy Website

This is a family website which also contains a great deal of additional genealogical information including Old Occupations, Old Medical Terms, Latin terms, Military Links, Marine Links, Passenger Lists, Old Maps, Etc.

Parish Chest

This is an online one-stop shop for a remarkable variety of family history products, including CDs of census data, M.I.s, Parish Registers, family tree charts etc.

British Genealogy Forums

This is a collection of free forums in which researchers can place their queries on an astonishingly wide range of family history topics.

How to find a cached or archived website

This is a method of locating websites which are no longer available by simply using their URL. There must be a lot of genealogical data out there in this category.

Genealogy Indexer

This is a beta facility which aims to catalogue genealogical data from a huge variety of sources - some of them pretty obscure. It has a long way to go yet, but should be worth keeping an eye on.

Free Human Translation

Sometimes family historians need to read a document in a foreign language. There are machine translation site on the web, and some of them such as "Nice Translator" are very good. However, if there are important shades of meaning involved, you really need human help. Remarkably there are some sites where even this is available free of charge. Here are some of them.


Census Resources

Census FAQs

All you ever wanted to know about the UK census, presented as a no frills list of frequently asked questions - and their answers.

British Census Indexes, Transcripts, and Images Available Online or on CD

A useful site showing where census data can be found.

British Data Archive

A more commercial site along the same lines.

Census Online

This is one of the most attractive and user friendly sites among those competing to guide us towards sources of census data. It covers the USA, Canada and Gt. Britain and includes CDs and books as well as online sources.

Census Finder

I found this site very complicated and difficult to navigate. Too many of the links take you to Ancestry, and I cannot believe that there is anyone researching family history who is unaware of the service provided by this commercial genealogy site. However once you get through the morass of commercial stuff, there are genuinely free facilities provided by a variety of individuals and family history societies, which make it all worth while. The way to get straight to the action is to ignore all temptations and go for: 'United Kingdom Census Finder', on the left hand side of the Home Page.

Instructions to Census Enumerators

Sometimes, in order to interpret the information in a census return, it is useful to know the instructions that were given to the enumerator. This site provides this for the 1851-1871 censuses.

Genealogy Lookups and Local Help

Genealogy Helplist United Kingdom

County Lookup Exchange

Wales Lookup Exchange

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Parish Register UK Lookup Exchange

The aim of this site is to bring together those who have copies of parish registers, census returns, MI s etc, and are willing to do lookups, with those who are searching for data. If you have ever thought "Somebody somewhere must have it", then it could be worth checking it out here. Like all new genealogy sites, it will get stronger as it gets older.

Census Detective

This site is a mine of information about the UK census and, remarkably, they offer a free lookup service. Even though they limit it to two per person per week, I would have thought that they would be overwhelmed, but we shall see.

Genealogy Photos

The purpose of this site is to put amateur genealogists in touch with amateur photographers in other parts of the world in order to obtain pictures of locations which are relevant to their family history.

English & Irish Family Search

This is a group of experienced volunteers who are prepared to use their expertise at no cost to you in order to search for your ancestors. The important thing is to give them as much information as you possibly can. I see that they are already receiving impossible requests with totally inadequate information, so it may all end in tears, but it's a great idea while it works.

Military Resources

The Army Children Archive

Chronicling British Army children's history.


Described as the largest and oldest website devoted to the land forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth. I found out more about my father's regiment from a ten minute visit to this website than from a prolonged exchange of e-mails with the curator of his regimental museum. See below.

Regiments of the British Army

The website seems to be no longer available, but most of the data from it is archived as above.

The Long, Long Trail

This site gives a comprehensive account of the Great War, together with much detailed advice on how to research those who fought in it.

British Service Medals of the First World War

This is an invaluable site for identifying those medals belonging to your ancestor.

Military Badge Identification Websites

British Cap Badges

Military Badge Indentification

Sometimes a photograph of your ancestor in military uniform will be clear enough to see his cap badge. These sites, which between them cover just about every military badge you are likely to come across should enable you to identify it.

The Beginners Guide to British War Medals

This lavishly illustrated site is principally aimed at collectors but, if you have found some old medals in the attic, it could be a great help in identifying them.

Service Records

This is an MOD site which gives guidance to those wishing to obtain service records for forces personnel who served after 1920. Earlier records are archived at the Public Record Office q.v.

Cross and Cockade

There are many websites about those who fought in the Great War, but not much about the Royal Flying Corps. This site corrects that omission. It is worth visiting just for the wonderful pictures of First World War aircraft in action.

RAF Commands

Forum for posting messages for researching RAF matters

The Old Front Line

A first class website dealing with the campaigns and formations of the First World War.

The Labour Corps 1917-1921

This website is dedicated to the memory of the men who served in the British Army's Labour Corps during the Great War.

Research Guide to the Pals Battalions

Although this page was originally written as a brief guide to researching the service records of men from the Accrington, Sheffield and Barnsley Pals battalions, much of it is relevant to WW1 service records in general.

Julie McCollum's Militarium

From the family historian's point of view, this site comprises guidance on researching a military ancestor, a very useful procedure for identifying an unknown medal and a forum in which one can ask questions on military matters.

The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust

If you are researching an Irish ancestor with a military background, this site will provide useful guidance and links to many relevant sources.

British Army in Bermuda

This is a very detailed, and beautifully illustrated account of the history of the British Army in Bermuda. You won't find individual ancestors here, but you will find which regiments were here at which times, from which you can move onto other sources to research particular individuals. There is also a link to the Royal Navy in Bermuda which turns out to be much more interesting than might be expected from the wording of the link - "Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda", tucked away at the very bottom of the main page.

The Battle of Jutland 1916 - Casualties Listed by Ship.

No explanation needed - it does what it says on the tin. However, no names other than those who played a crucial role in the battle.


The General Register Office - Ireland

Here you can apply for birth, marriage and death certificates.

Tips for Finding Your Irish Immigrant Ancestor's Place of Birth in Ireland(a research guide for Irish-Americans)

Does just what it says on the tin.

Ireland Census Records

This site is best described as a Portal - being a vast collection of links to sources of information relating to the Irish census and other related collections of information.

Irish Genealogy Online

Irish Genealogy Online

Irish Genealogy Toolkit

Advice for beginner and intermediate family historians researching their Irish ancestors, history and heritage.

Irish Genealogy

Wide ranging methodology and links for tracing your Irish ancestry

The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust

If you are researching an Irish ancestor with a military background, this site will provide useful guidance and links to many relevant sources.

Irish Ancestors at Rest

This site provides a wide range of links to sources such as coffin plates, death cards, funeral cards, wills, church records, family bibles, cenotaphs and tombstone inscriptions.

Scottish Genealogy

National Archives of Scotland

Not all Scottish archive material is stored here, but this is a good place to go to find out where it is stored. There are also links to other online sources such as SCAN (see below) and an on line course in reading old Scottish handwriting.

Scottish Archive Network

Here you will find a number of excellent articles on Scottish genealogy, a glossary of terms that you may find in Scottish wills and legal documents, and a Forum on which you can share your problems with other family historians.

Scots Genes

Described as a complete internet resource for tracing your Scottish ancestors, this site contains a tutorial on Scottish genealogy, a links section, a web ring of Scottish sites, a message board, a chat room etc.

Scotlands Family

An outstanding resource for links to Scottish data of every description from Civil Registration to Scots Dictionaries. This is where I would choose to start my research on a Scottish ancestor.

The Scottish Association of Family History Societies

If you are planning to join a Family History Society which covers the area of your Scottish research, this is the place to find it.

Highland Family History Research Guide

This is really a portal to genealogy in the Scottish Highlands, being a substantial collection of links to relevant sites. A good place to begin looking for your highland ancestors.

Download free Tartans

I don't want to get into the heritage business, but tartans - as long as they are genuine- are an essential part of Scottish genealogy. Here, you can download a sample of any of over 500 tartans scanned from the actual cloth. Did you know that it is appropriate for all subjects of the Queen to wear the Royal Stewart tartan. Not with my knees!

Jewish Genealogy

Jewish Family History Foundation

Works to preserve, acquire, translate and disseminate Jewish records from the archives and other repositories in eastern Europe. The major ongoing project is putting the 18th Century censuses of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania/Kingdom of Poland into an online database. Translating early 19th Century Russian revision lists on which Jewish families first had surnames, to serve as "bridge records" to the 18th Century lists where families did not have them. Provides support to family history researchers who establish groups to study the history of their ancestral towns and family origins.

Jewish Genealogy Research Tools and Techniques

Informative article covering the basics of doing Jewish Genealogy research with a focus on techniques for finding European town of origin and surnames.

Historical Background

History UK

Here you can find the history that forms the background to your research.

Spartacus Educational

This is primarily aimed at schools, but there is a wealth of information inthere on many subjects relating to British history . The WW1 section isexcellent.

Useful Dates in British History

"Useful dates in British history for the local historian or genealogist, with a few others added in for good measure!" - That is just what you get - and very useful it is too.

Monarchs of England

If you want to know whether your ancestor was a Victorian or an Edwardian, here is a quick and simple way to find out. If you get back to Egbert, let me know. Sorry Ma'am, didn't mean you!

The On-Line Facsimile Library

This British Library site has reproductions of several famous newspapers, including the Manchester Guardian, which can be searched on-line. Unfortunately, only selected years are available, so your chances of being able to read a report of a particular incident are rather slim. However, this is a good way to obtain a flavour of the times.

How Much is that Worth Today

An absolutely fascinating site comparing the purchasing power of money in the Great Britain from 1264 to 2002.If your ancestor left a thousand pounds in his will, was he super rich or just comfortable? This is where you can find out.

Current Value of Old Money

Just what it says on the tin.

Currency Converter

This official site enables you to see the present value of a sum of money from the past, or the value of a current amount of money at a specified year in the past, as well as what it would have bought then.

Cost of Living Calculator for United Kingdom

If the value or cost of something is entered in one of the empty boxes (for a particular year), then its comparable value for all the other years will be given.

The Descendants of William the Conqueror

This should really be in the data section, as it includes information about individuals, but I felt that users would find it more easily here. Some people like to claim "My ancestor came over with the conqueror". If you are one of these, this site will provide an opportunity to substantiate your claim (or not).

Latin - English Dictionary

If you get far enough back into your family tree, you may have to translate documents from the Latin. Even if you are old enough to have taken Latin at school, you will probably need some help.

British History Online

British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, it aims to support academic and personal users around the world in their learning, teaching and research.

Old Towns

All you ever wanted to know about 19th C Manchester, and, potentially, almost anywhere else. If the town you are researching isn't there, just ask.

The Workhouse

This is a very relevant site for those of us whose ancestors came from the heavily exploited workforce of the industrial north. The site also contains some genealogical data.

Poor Law Union Database

The Poor Law Union Database lists all Church of England parishes and many additional places and gives the name of the Union that place belonged to and an indication of which Record Office holds the records for that Union.

Index of English and Welsh Lunatic Asylums and Mental Hospitals

You may not feel inclined to look for your ancestors in a lunatic asylum. But bear in mind that in the past many people whom we would not consider to be insane were hidden away in such institutions, including epileptics, unmarried mothers, paupers and many others. The name of this site is a little misleading, as it has spread beyond the bounds of England and Wales.

Victorian Photographers of Britain,1855-1901

If your ancestor was a photographer, or you have a picture of your ancestor by a known photographer, you may be able to find him here.

Date an Old Photograph

This is another approach to the same problem, and relies on fashion in clothing, pose and background to date a photograph at least to the nearest decade.

Fashion - Era

Fashion history, costume trends & eras, Victorian costumes & haute couture. Useful source for dating old photographs

Costume Detective

How to date a photograph using costume history.

Wedding Fashion from the V&A

A collection of wedding photographs illustrating fashions from 1840 to the present day. Comparison with these will help you date your old wedding photographs.

Calculation of the Ecclesiastical Calendar

Genealogists sometimes need to know when Easter was at some time in the past - This is an easy way to find out.

Famine/Pestilances in England

If you come across a period when your ancestors were dying like flies, you may find the explanation here.

Chartist Ancestors

Lots of information about the chartists, together with lists of names taken from various histories of the Chartist movement.

One Look Dictionary Search

Enter a word and it lists multiple dictionaries that have a definition. Useful for older words and occupations since it often lists dictionaries from the 1800s and early 1900s.

UK History Photo Finder

This National Archives site enables the user to find and view photographs of a huge number of locations held in the archive.

Gazetteer of British Place Names

A Vision of Britain Through Time

This is a superb facility in which you can select a particular town, parish or village and quickly learn a great deal about it at various stages in its history. The facilities available on this site are too numerous to mention here, but they include maps, statistics and descriptive articles. You really have to go there and try it for yourself.

British Counties, Parishes, etc. for Genealogists

Researchers from abroad (and many Brits) are often confused by British geographical terms. If you have ever wondered about the difference between a 'hundred' and a 'parish', or tried to find out which county East Anglia is in, you will find this site very helpful. No doubt all the information is available in GENUKI, but it is much easier to find it in this small and tidy site.

MultiMap and StreetMap

For genealogical research, these are among the best of the many general purpose map sites on the web. Multimap used to have the edge, but since the withdrawal of its free facility for locating individual house numbers, there is little to choose between them.

Google Maps

Google always seems to manage to go one better than the competition, and of all the modern map sites, this has to be the best. It is well worth taking the site tour, as it has a good selection of facilities.

Genealogy with Microsoft Local Live

Another site from the Expert Genealogy stable, this one suggests ways in which Microsoft's Local Live mapping site can be of assistance to the genealogist, as well as linking to that site.

Postcode Lookup Links

As family history is very much involved with communication, this site may prove a useful tool. The links enable you to look up postcodes for a very wide range of countries.

Multi Agency Geographic Information for the Countryside (MAGIC)

This is a good source for rural areas.

Map of England & Wales c. 1840

This is an exceptionally good map for its date, and should be of considerable value to family historians.

Old Maps

An interesting site for all historians, but suffers from inevitable legibility problems.


Old maps specifically for the genealogist. Links to:

Old maps of Lancashire

Also very interesting, but similar legibility problems.

Your Old Maps Online

These are high quality scans of old maps and etchings collected by the author and sent in by users of the site. There are maps from most counties, including some good maps of Bolton in 1920.

New Popular Edition Maps

Searcheable 1940s Ordnanace Survey Maps. Although 1940 is a little late for family history applications, in practice these maps are very useful as they show Britain as it was before the very rapid development of the 1960s and beyond. The map sections displayed can be irritatingly small, but are perfectly useable with patience. This is also becoming a good free resource for linking post codes to locations.

British History Online

The County Series of Ordnance Survey maps for Great Britain. Begun in 1840, this is the first comprehensive historic mapping of England, Scotland and Wales. At a scale of 1:10,560 for rural areas and 1: 2,500 for cities, the maps are very detailed, clearly showing field boundaries, and city streets. This is perhaps the most useful of all the mapping sites for the family historian. Maps

For some areas (particularly rural areas?) this site provides the best aerial views of any mapping site. It seems however that one has to try several mapping sites to find the best result, as the quality can vary greatly.

The IreAtlas

Finds Irish locations, and gives useful information about them.

(Scottish) Ordnance Survey Town Plans 1847-1895

Over 1,900 sheets covering 62 towns - the most detailed maps ever surveyed by Ordnance Survey. This is a 'must see' for anyone researching 19thC Scotland.

Planiglobe - Online Map Creation

Make a customized map. Pan and zoom to an area of the world. Add your own locations to a map and download a PostScript or Illustrator compatible version. This is an ideal way of illustrating your family history.

Ancestral Atlas

A free site which enables you to add family history events to specific locations, and to look at other researchers' contributions in the same area.

Mapseeker - Historical maps on line

Mapseeker holds detailed historical maps, many of which are free to search. These are useful for seeing which streets have been added or built over as settlements grow over the centuries. Includes good historical maps of Manchester.

Maps of England

An excellent collection of old maps of English counties and cities including the 1885 Boundary Commission maps.

English Parishes in 1851

This is another facility provided by the Mormon Family Search organisation under the heading England Jurisdictions 1851, and is up to their usual standard. You need to play around with it to appreciate its range of options, but it is full of useful information. You may find errors on place names, but at least there is a feedback button to correct them.

Old Map of Cheshire

I am told by a member of the list that Digital Archives Association have some very good maps of Lancashire on CD. They can be found here.

Baedeker's Old Guide Books

This website has a collection of maps that will be an aid to Genealogists. The maps present so far are scanned from Baedeker's Great Britain, Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker, the seventh edition published in 1910. It has 28 maps, 65 plans and a Panorama.

Find a Church

Genealogists often need to find the location of churches. This site should help.

A Church Near You

This site enables you to find an English church by county or by Diocese with a helpful collection of information about the church, including a map to help you find it. If you wish to go further afield, you can search Europe for Anglican churches from Albania to Uzbekistan.

Photographs of English Churches

Here is a chance to see where your ancestors were married - or to contribute digitised images of your local churches.

Churches of the World

Old and contemporary pictures of places of worship in a wide range of countries. You may find photographs of where your ancestors were married. This site is in the early stages of development and so can be expected to grow rapidly.

Old Photographs of Places in the UK

Family historians are often interested in finding old photographs of places which are relevant to their research. This site attempts to compile a collection of these. It is obviously a work in progress, and it may be some time before it grows to a size where it can be of significant value. Inevitably, it tends to be biased towards seaside locations.

Vision of Britain

Described as a vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Including maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions; this is a very useful gazetteer, which supplements the local information available in GENUKI. It includes the mainland and most of the islands, but not the Channel Isles.

One Place Studies

If, like most of us, your ancestors tend to be clustered around one particular place, it could be worth checking it out here. No doubt the site will continue to grow, so it will be worth returning from time to time. The counties are designated using the Chapman codes. If these are unfamiliar, you can find them here.

Digital Archives

Digital Archives Association is a small group of amateurs producing high resolution images of historical maps on CD and DVD. They mainly cover a selection of northern counties and London at present, though they will no doubt expand to cover much more.

Surname Mapping

This is a remarkably complete account of techniques for mapping the locations of events in the lives of your ancestors. Too complex to describe here and we found it difficult to use, but it is the only source we have found on this topic so do go and look for yourself.

Jobs, Trades, and Professions

Five Thousand Ways to Earn a Living

If you find an occupation on a census return that doesn't seem to make sense - like 'Mangle Keeper' for example, look it up here. Unlike some of the other 'Occupations'sites, It won't tell you anything about it, but it is a very comprehensive list.

Spinning the Web

Subtitled 'The story of the cotton industry', this is a Manchester City Council website, and will tell you all you will want to know about cotton - and more. However there is a surprise buried deep in this website. If you type "National Roll Great War Smith" into the search box you will find a roll of the Manchester Smiths (for example) who fought in the 1914-18 war. Like most genealogical sources it is incomplete, but a very good try.

Through Mighty Seas

If your ancestor was a mariner, sailing from a port in the north west of England, you will find this site very interesting. Especially so if you know the names of any of the vessels on which he sailed.

The Ships List

This is a big site which covers just about anything to do with ships. The reason it is also in the Data Section is that it includes some free to view passenger lists - which is pretty unusual. A fascinating site for anyone with a seafaring ancestor, or one who emigrated.

British Maritime History Genealogical Guides and More

Comprehensive realistic guides for researching mariners in both the British merchant service and Royal Navy - the former from 1835 and the latter from 1793.

Railway Ancestors

This site is designed to help you find those ancestors who worked on the railway. It operates as a club, for which the membership is currently £7.50/£8.50, for UK residents, depending on whether you take their journal in CD or hardcopy.

Other possible sources are the National Archive here where Railway Company Records are held, and a book - Railway Ancestors : A Guide to the Staff Records of the Railway Companies of England, which is reviewed here.

List of Coal Mines in Gt. Britain in 1880

There are probably not many people of British descent who don't have a coal miner somewhere in their family tree. This site will help you to discover where they worked. The date of 1880 is very convenient, being just a year away from the 1881 census - available online from the LDS website. If your ancestor is described as a coal miner or collier, there is a good chance that he would have worked at the pit nearest to his home, which you can find on this site.

The Pub History Society

If your ancestor kept a pub, you may find this site useful. There is a noticeboard for pub enthusiasts, and a large number of links to other pub related sites.

Traditional trades and occupations in pubs

A large number of jobs centred around public houses, from the brewer right through to the pot man. Many of them no longer exist so, if your ancestor worked in this trade, you may be interested to read more about his activities.

British Army Cap Badges
Military Cap Badges and Insignia
Military Badges

Although these are principally sales sites for collectors of militaria, all have an enormous number of illustrations of cap badges and other insignia, which could prove invaluable for identifying regiments from old family photographs.

Archaic Medical Terms

This is an award winning site which will help you to interpret the causes of death in those old Death Certificates.

Antiquus Morbus

Antiquus Morbus is a collection of old medical terms in a range of European languages and their modern definitions. The primary focus of this web site is to help decipher the Causes of Death found on Mortality Lists, Certificates of Death and Church Death Records from the 19th century and earlier. Many old names for Diseases, Illnesses and other Medical Terms are also included.


This site covers all aspects of maritime activity from the Royal Navy to the merchant marine. It consists mainly however, of guidance on how to find information - most of it offline.

The Fairground Heritage Trust

This is the site that used to be called "The Galloper". It still covers Entertainers, Music Hall, Variety and Magic, but is now devoted to a series of discussion forums on these subjects. You might be able to find someone here who can help with your research.

Theatre - UK

The home of the Theatre - UK mailing list.

Official Government Resources for the Genealogist

Family Records

This gives guidance on locating and accessing Civil Registration and Census records

The National Archive

The PRO (Public Record Office) and the HMC (Historical Manuscripts Commission) have recently combined to form the NA (National Archive). This site is primarily aimed at those who plan to visit the NA in person, and provides detailed advice on how to find various types of documents. The advice, though sadly not the documents, is designed to be easily downloaded, so you can take copies with you on your visit. A related site is:

Your Archives

The National Archives' online community of records users. 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 content on these pages has mainly been contributed by users and is designed to offer information additional to that available in the Catalogue, Research Guides, DocumentsOnline and the National Register of Archives. The National Archives does not vouch for the accuracy of the information held within Your Archives.

Access 2 Archives

A2A is a searchable database of abstracts from English archives. It is a very effective way of finding information about our ancestors which would be extremely difficult to locate in any other way. The abstract provided is only short, but it should be enough to decide whether it might be worth the effort of trying to obtain a copy of the original document. The database currently contains over five million abstracts from over three hundred repositories, and is still expanding.

General Register Office

Yet another of the proliferation of official government sites from which we can learn how to order copies of Civil Registration Certificates.

Wills and Probate

This is part of the new Court Service website, and gives guidance on obtaining copies of wills, which are now scanned from the new purpose built Probate Records Centre in Birmingham, to any District Registry.

Companies House

If your ancestor owned a limited company, you may find something useful here.

The London, Belfast and Edinburgh Gazettes

The London, Edinburgh, and Belfast Gazettes are the official newspapers of record in the United Kingdom. Several legal notices, including insolvency notices, are required by law to be published in the Gazettes. In addition, you will find announcements of Honours, Awards and Medals (other than campaign medals) - in fact such events only become effective once they have been "Gazetted". The archive is searchable online.

Local Sources of Genealogical Data

A to Z of UK Council Archives

This site provides links to the archives of all UK councils including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, The Channel Isles and the Isle of Man.


This site is designed to help the family historian find local sources of data, particularly in public libraries. Some of these have their own websites for example: Manchester Archives and Local Studies Library (see below)

English Family History Resources

This is a collection of postal and e-mail addresses and telephone numbers for local sources of genealogy data, organised by county - a very useful quick reference.

Sources Specific to Manchester and Lancashire

Manchester Archives and Local Studies Library

This is part of Manchester Central Library and has a wide range of material relating to local history, including a large collection of photographs of Manchester (You can even request a photograph of a particular location to be published on the site). In particular, it has microfilmed copies of the parish registers of many local churches, giving details of baptisms, marriages and burials, prior to 1837. Photocopies of these can be obtained by post, and an order form for this can be downloaded here

Past Finder

Past Finder is a database listing over 4,000 archive collections held by local government services in Greater Manchester. It does not list items within an archive but gives a brief description of the contents of each collection. As of yet there is no details of individual documents.

Greater Manchester Archives

This is the website of the Greater Manchester Record Office, in which can be found the location of archives for the Greater Manchester area. There is inevitably a good deal of overlap with the Lancashire and Cheshire Record Offices as well as with Manchester Central Library, but it is a useful pointer to records from the outlying areas.

NW Regional Archive Council

Here you can find links to a large number of local archives in the NW - 79 for Greater Manchester alone. There are also reports on projects to convert scattered data into useful archives.

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council Genealogy Page

This searchable database carries details of thousands of local people, compiled from local directories published between 1772 and 1845. If you had ancestors living in Stockport during that period, this is a very user friendly way of finding them.

Tameside Local and Family History

This is a very valuable resource for anyone researching their family history in Tameside (a Metropolitan Borough to the south-east of Manchester comprised of nine towns running along the Tame Valley.) Among its unique features are substantial extracts from the 1811 census (yes, there really was one), online local directories and links to many other sources of local information.

Manchester and the North-West Region of England

A very comprehensive website dealing with the History and Heritage of the Greater Manchester area.

Lancashire GenWeb

Lots of useful information about Lancashire, together with Query and Surname Boards, and Mailing Lists.

Old Historic Families of Manchester and Lancashire

If your family is connected to any of the historic families in the region, this site, which is part of the Greater Manchester Virtual Encyclopaedia, will be of interest to you.

OnLine Parish Clerks for the County of Lancashire

Lists all the Lancashire parishes, and provides e-mail links to OPCs where they exist. If the OPC has a website, the link takes you there. Also has a link to the Parish Registers Search Function, which is an invaluable facility for finding information which would otherwise be very difficult to locate.

Lancashire Will Search

The purpose of this page is to provide a search engine to assist one in finding a will of a person who died in Lancashire, England from the time period of the mid sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century. Don't be put off if this draws a blank - the will may still exist.

Local History of Liverpool and its Hinterland

For those with a Liverpool born ancestor, this site would be an excellent place to get to know the area. There are also some useful links to sources of family history data, and to local societies.

Liverpool Schools

If you or your ancestors were pupils or teachers at Liverpool schools, you will probably find something of interest here which will help to flesh out the bare bones of your family story.

Manchester Mapping Projects

A very informative range of maps showing various aspects of Manchester, its parishes and registration districts.

Photographs of Lancashire

Ancestral Lancashire Snapshots is a photographic service for those people who are researching their Lancashire family history, but, because they live too far away, are unable to visit the beautiful and fascinating places their ancestors were born, lived and died. At Ancestral Lancashire Snapshots, we will provide a quote that's specific to each customer's individual requirement. It will vary according to the number of locations to be visited and the distance from our Bury base, in the heart of Lancashire.

Manchester City Council Burial Records

This online service offers you the opportunity to search records of burials in Manchester dating back to 1837. Around 800,000 records are available relating to Manchester General, Gorton, Philips Park, Blackley and Southern cemeteries.

A bit of Lancashire History

This website contains information regarding old Lancashire and its' people. A lot of it is taken from old 'Liverpool' newspapers.

Manchester Community Forum

This general forum has a genealogy section from which you may be able to glean information on your Manchester ancestors.

Genealogy Publications

MLFHS Bookshop

A comprehensive selection of books, CDs, fiche and maps relevant to family history research in and around Lancashire.

Archive CD Books

Reproductions of old books on CD, including such gems as census enumerators' books for many English and Welsh counties.

Family History Books

From the Federation of Family History Societies

Phillimore Bookshop

An online bookshop with a very wide range of historical and genealogical books.

S & N Genealogy

An online supplier of genealogy books and CDs. Particularly good for Census CDs.

Stepping Stones

Another online genealogy bookshop offering Census CDs, Trade Directories and City Centre Maps. Not such a wide range of Census material as S & N, but what they have seems a little cheaper.

The Genealogy Store

This is a new online store with the usual census CDs, maps etc. I include it here in case it lists anything which is not available elsewhere.

Old Ordnance Survey Maps (The Godfrey Maps)

These are the best maps that I have seen for 19th century genealogy. Those relevant to Lancashire and some adjoining areas are available from the MLFHS Bookshop (See above), but on this site, you can see the full range.

CDs by Mail Order

This site offers a number of interesting old maps, including the Bartholomew's map of Manchester and Salford circa 1900, on CD

Free Genealogy Record Forms

Here you can download a variety of free genealogy record forms, which you can either use on your PC, or print to fill them in by hand. If you are not a naturally organised person, this could be the way to keep your research in order. The site belongs to a professional genealogy research outfit, who offer a free initial consultation to put your research on the right track. They presumably hope that you will pay them to go on from there, but that is entirely up to you.

Back to Roots

This company sell a wide range of products for the family historian, including database software, data CDs, books and acid free products for the storage of old documents etc.

Family History Societies

The Federation of Family History Societies, MLFHS and The Guild of One- Name Studies have already been mentioned. (See "Genealogy Contacts" above). In addition there are the following:

Lancashire Parish Register Society

This exists to transcribe and preserve Lancashire parish registers, and, like most other organisations actively contributing to our genealogical resources, it is always on the look out for volunteers.

The Society of Genealogists

This is not a site where you will find online data, but their library is obviously a valuable resource. If you live in or around London, or visit it regularly, you might consider joining.

Quaker Family History Society

The aim of this society is to encourage and assist anyone interested in tracing the history of Quaker families in Britain and Ireland. There are tips for research, and useful links to other sources.

The Scottish Genealogy Society

Like the Society of Genealogists above, this is one that you really need to visit in person. However, there is an online Forum which is available for use by non members, and many links to other relevant sources.

Railway Ancestors Family History Society

This is a Family History Society that specialises in families with railway connections. It has the usual facilities of Members' Interests Lists, regular publications etc.

Genealogy Software

Ahenenblat Genealogy Software

Ahenenblat is a free and easy-to-use genealogy software for Windows. It is designed to manage your genealogy data and to generate impressive reports and graphical trees. Many import and export features make it easy to share data with others (GEDCOM, HTML, and more). Ahnenblatt is available in several languages (English, German, French, Spanish and more).

Genealogical Databases - A Review

Before you buy a database for your family history records, take a look at this site. It has been completely rewritten since my last review and now covers a wider range of databases with a very detailed description of each. I personally regret the passing of the table which enabled the user to compare the various products at a glance, but the huge amount of information on each database more than compensates for this. I have yet to be convinced that it makes sense to part with hard earned cash when Personal Ancestry File is available form the Family Search site as a free download.

Louis Kessler's Genealogy Software Links

On this site, you can learn all you ever wanted to know about genealogy databases, and probably a great deal more besides.

Personal Ancestry File

Just follow the Free Download links to get PAF 5 genealogy database. If the reporting options are not sufficient, you can also download PAF Companion. On the same site, under Product Support, you will find an interactive tutorial to show you how to get started.

Legacy Family Tree

You can download a free standard Version of this genealogy database from this site, or buy the deluxe version.

MLFHS Genealogy Toolbar

Manchester & Lancashire FHS have produced a very convenient genealogy toolbar, which you can use to go straight to a number of the most popular family history sites on the web(including this one). You can also add your own favourite sites to turn this into a universal research tool.

Here you can find a variety of genealogical freeware and shareware to use on your PC.

Family Tree Factory

This appears to be a very versatile piece of software for printing out family trees in a wide variety of formats. It comes as a free download, which works as a demonstation version (the word 'Demo' appears in a number of places on the tree). To remove this irritation, you have to buy a licence.


This application allows you to open and view a GEDCOM without having to create an extra, and possibly inappropriate, file in your family history database. It is a Freeware package by RKS Software, and has been made available for download from the MLFHS website. It should be noted that this is a zipped copy, and you will therefore require a facility such as WinZip to gain access to it. You can download an evaluation copy of WinZip from here.

1901 England and Wales Census Decoder

The 1901 Census Decoder is a stand alone program that, once installed, will connect (using your own internet connection) to the UK's Public Record Office 1901 census website and allow you to conduct the free searches normally used to find family members. The Decoder program is an essential tool for planning your downloading of images so you can be sure you will spend the full £5 voucher/minimum fee on the families you really want and not chasing "possibilities". It also provides a permanent record of all those you find, some of whom will become targets later on in your research!

Parish Locator Program

This is a freeware program which you can download to enable you to find the locations of over 15,000 UK parishes.

Virtual Magnifying Glass

This is not specifically a genealogy tool, but you may find it useful for reading documents on line - Available as a free download.

Mudcreek Software

From here you can download a GEDCOM viewer (GENViewer) in either a free (simplified) version or a complete version. They also offer GENMatcher, which enables two GEDCOMS to be compared.

Birth Date Calculator

This neat little freebie is a boon to those who can't do sums in their head, or are just lazy. If you know your subject's age on a particular date (such as a census), it calculates the range of possible birth dates. All the UK census dates are built in so it does everything for you. I keep mine on my desktop.

Genealogy Problem Finder

I like this a lot. Exum (pronounced as exhume) examines a GEDCOM and reports back on any interesting or unusual features of it, such as child marriage, illegitimacy, children from mothers who are already dead etc. It is very easy to use, and you have the choice of downloading it, or using it in situ. It is much less embarrassing than having others point out absurdities to you when you exchange GEDCOMs!

Pocket Genealogist

If you have a pocket computer, and would like to have your family history database with you at the Record Office, library etc., this could be the software for you. If your database is compatible with GEDCOMs, and your hand held computer is Windows based, then according to Northern Hills Software, it will work with this application. You get a free 30 day trial, so you don't need to commit yourself until you know that you and it are also compatible.

Calendar Magic

This remarkable free software from EuroSoft, enables you to do just about anything in the way of calendar calculations. If you struggle with Julian v. Gregorian, you will find the answer here. On the other hand, if you just want to know on what day of the week your grandfather was married, you would be well advised to use the much simpler "Day of the Week Calculator" in the General Genealogy Resources section above.

M8 Free Multi Clipboard

A quick and easy download that gives you a 30 slot clipboard - invaluable for moving data around between web sources and your database.


GEDxlate quickly and easily translates genealogy data from standard GEDCOM format into MS Access dB (*.mdb), MS Excel Worksheet (*.xls), comma delimited (*.csv), and text file (*.txt) formats. Pick a GEDCOM file to translate; select which fields you want to include in your dB, spreadsheet, csv, or txt file; choose an output format and file name to save the translated data in; and you're there! And it's FREE.


PhpGedView is a revolutionary free genealogy program which allows you to view and edit your genealogy on your website. PhpGedView has full editing capabilities, full privacy functions, can import from GEDCOM files, and supports multimedia like photos and document images. PhpGedView also simplifies the process of collaborating with others working on your family tree.


This is a free program that makes transcribing easier by allowing you to see the original text at the top of the screen and your transcription below it.

Genealogy Freeware

Converting Excel files to Gedcom, with links to free GEDCOM viewers and genealogy programs.

Surname Findit

This is a neat piece of software made available as a free download (contributions welcome). It is intended for use when you have a partial surname from a document that is hard to read or from reading a tombstone or cemetery marker. When you put in the characters you can figure out, then click Search, the program will create a list of matching surnames. It also helps you to search the web for information on the surnames it suggests.

Publishing a Family Tree on the Web


Several of the commercial websites have facilities for publishing you family's genealogy, but this site specialises in putting family trees on the web. If you have no problems with the copyright issues involved, this is a free and easy way of achieving this.

My Heritage

A site which enables you to create a family tree, which is described as free, private and secure.

Online Genealogy Magazines

Genealogy Today

Many of the above sites were first brought to my attention through the MLFHS List, and later through the Channel Islands and Nottinghamshire Lists. Thanks are due to those members who took the trouble to submit this information, also to Cyndi's List and to the many individuals who have responded constructively to this website.