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Content by:
Linda Thompson Jonas 2006

General British Isles

Have you used the "Where to Begin" section to find out what information is already available about your ancestors? If so, use this section to help you get into British Isles research materials.  Most of the materials listed are available from the Family History Library through Family History Centers worldwide.

The following items are only a select list of materials. These items are in the process of annotation.

How to do British Isles Research

Bevan, Amanda, ed. Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office provides a good overview of the wealth of resources that are available at the Public Record Office. Advice is given on how to get into each of the record classes and what approach will give the best results. Further references are also supplied for you to study a particular subject in depth.

Chapman, Colin. Tracing Your British Ancestors provides an overview of the basic record groups to be found in British Isles research. It includes comments on England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man.

Hamilton-Edwards, Gerald. In Search of British Ancestry.

Herber, Mark D., Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History. This book is an excellent and very comprehensive guide to English records. It focuses on English research, but also contains information on Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. Highly recommended.

Pelling, George. Beginning Your Family History in Great Britain is a concise introductory text focusing on the essentials of research back to the sixteenth century in Great Britain.

Finding Aids

Kew Lists are a detailed list of records housed in the Public Record Office [PRO]. The Public Record Office (located at Kew, Richmond, Surrey) houses the national archives of England and the United Kingdom. Until 1996, the PRO records were divided between two buildings, one in Chancery Land and the other at Kew. All records have now been moved to Kew. The Kew lists that are available to Family History Centers were published between 1986-88 with a 1992 update. They describe primarily records that were then located at Kew. The Kew Lists contain the Current Guide followed by the class lists.

The Current Guide is divided into three parts:

Part 1 contains an "administrative history of each institution, outlining the development of its organization and functions and indicating the classes containing its records." The institutions are in numerical order. For a complete listing of the institutions, see Administrative Histories. Part I of the Current Guide is on FHL fiche 6092282..

Part 2 describes record classes in alphanumeric order. FHL fiche 6092283.

Part 3 is a name and subject index to Parts 1 and 2. FHL fiche 6092284.

The Current Guide is followed by the Class Lists. Each class is given a Public Record Office class reference which is comprised of a lettercode followed by a number. The Class Lists are arranged in alphanumeric order on microfiche 6092285 - 6092372.

The Kew lists are the finding aids for the Public Record Office. They allow you to refer to specific documents when requesting copies from the PRO. For finding aids of other repositories see National Inventory of Documentary Sources below.

National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom and Ireland (NIDS) is a finding aid collection on microfiche. NIDS is produced on microfiche in annual units by Chadwyck-Healey. It provides detailed listings including exact reference numbers for the collections in British archives, libraries, and museums. Using NIDS enables a researcher to plan an effective research trip, to write to a repository with a specific record request, or to hire a record agent to search a specific record.

Use the NIDS Register for a listing of NIDS repositories, descriptions of records, Chadwyck-Healey microfiche numbers, and FHL microfiche numbers.

A name and subject index to NIDS is on FHL fiche #6341118 (28 fiche). The index is contained on fiches 16-28 of the set. To use the index, look under the name or subject desired to obtain a reference number. Then look in the numerical listing of finding aids on fiches 1-15 to find the Chadwyck-Healey [CH] fiche number. A sample CH fiche number is 0.048.039. This is the Register of Testaments for Lanark, Scotland. "0.048" is the number assigned to the repository (in this case 0.048 is the Scottish Record Office). ".039" is the fiche number that contains the Register of Testaments for Lanark. To convert a CH fiche number to an FHL fiche number, use the NIDS Register.

Public Record Office Current Guide (1996 version). It is the update to the Current Guide contained in the Kew Lists above and has the same format.

You can search the Public Record Office Catalogue online.

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