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Family history sources and records

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Gathering information

Family history is an exciting and worthwhile pastime but it is complex and can be time-consuming. Remember that you will not be able to complete your family tree on one visit to Nottinghamshire Archives or your local library and will need to come back several times.

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There are many sources available for family historians, but remember they were not created for family historians. They are structured and organised in ways which reflect their original purpose.  Because of this, it can take time and much searching to find an individual.

Personal data

Some modern records held at Nottinghamshire Archives may contain sensitive personal information and access may be limited under the Data Protection Act.  Whilst this can be frustrating, it is important to remember that you and your information are also protected by these restrictions. In some cases permission can be granted for access to or research to be undertaken for you in restricted records. Contact Archives for more information.

Types of records

Record type:Uses:Dates available:
Census returnsRecord information about families and households every ten years; can give ages, relationships, addresses, occupations.1841-1911
Wills and probate recordsRecord the disposal of a person's estate; they can provide valuable information on family relationships.13th century - present
Nonconformist and Catholic registersRecord baptisms, marriages and burials in Nonconformist and Catholic churches; can help with ages, parents' names and addresses.18th century-20th century
Electoral registersLists of address detailing those who had the right to vote; useful for addresses and residents, but only those who could vote. 1832 - 2000 (with gaps)
Cemetery recordsProvides information on individuals' burials, including ages and addresses.19th - 20th century
Birth, marriage and death certificatesProvide dates of birth, marriage and death; names of mother [birth] and father [birth, marriage] and spouses [marriage]; addresses; occupations.1837 to present
NewspapersCan give obituaries, funeral notices and inquest reports as well as any stories about ancestors making the news.Largely from the 19th century onwards
Trade directoriesPublished lists of tradespeople; useful for finding addresses.Late 18th century - 1950s
Poor law recordsCan give information on family relationships and individuals' histories including ages.Settlement records: 17th - 19th centuries Workhouse records: 19th and early 20th centuries
Parish registersRecord baptisms, marriages and burials in Anglican churches; can help with ages, parents' and spouses' names and addresses.1538-present
 

Other sources of information

Other records which might be useful include:

  • School records including admission registers
  • Court records which can be used to find evidence of illegitimacy, convicts, transported felons and criminal pasts
  • Police records are useful for ancestors who worked in the police force
  • Hospital records including patients registers
  • Rate books can show who owned or rented property
  • Manorial records are useful for earlier ancestors and provide information on relationships and property
  • Estate records for ancestors who lived on landed estates
  • Maps and plans to help identify where people lived and tracing localities.
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Contact Archives

For more advice on which records to use and on visiting Nottinghamshire Archives, please contact us.

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