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Searching for your family history

How do I start tracing my family history?

Tracing your family history can be an interesting and rewarding pastime. It can however be time consuming as your research may require patient searching through many different types of record.

If your family had its origins in the East Riding then there might be information held by the archives and local studies service. There are many online resources that you can use to help trace your family history. You may also need to find birth, marriage and death certificates. To find out how to get copies of birth, marriage and death certificates, visit the  copies of registration certificates page. 

The archives and local studies service can provide you with helpful information and advice. The Treasure Houseand local libraries have computers that you can use for free so that you can search family history websites including the library edition of Ancestry.com.

To use librarycomputers you will need your library card and to sign the acceptable use policy.

Starting your family history

Keep a record of everything that you look at, even if the search was unsuccessful. This means you will be able to find the source again if you want to check the details and you also will avoid repeating research which did not find anything.

Getting Started

Start with known facts about your family and then work backwards. For example, if you know the details of your grandmother’s birth then her birth/baptism certificate will give the names of her parents so next you could look for their marriage and births/baptisms.

Find out as much as possible from family members and check any family records such as certificates, letters, bibles and photographs. Information which could be helpful would be names, family relationships, dates, where people lived, what jobs they did or which church they attended.

Many researchers find it useful to read one of the various books available about tracing family history. You can purchase some books about how to do your family history from the Treasure House shop.

Detailed information about specific records for a particular area can then be accessed via our online catalogue.

Microform copies of many popular sources, such as parish registers, are available in the research roomas part of our self-service system. Printed and original sources can also be seen in our research room. Researchers using original documents will need a County Archive Research Network (CARN) reader’s ticket. Microform readers and space to look at original documents can be bookedin advance of a visit.

Newspapers

Newspapers can include notices of family events, obituaries and reports of court cases and coroners’ inquests. We hold local newspapers for the late 18th-21st centuries, although many of the earlier ones start in 1856. These are generally available on microfilm although some newspapers dating from the mid 20th century are only held as paper copies. Detailed information about individual newspapers is available on request.

Bridlington, Goole Local Studies Libraries also hold newspapers for their particular areas. These can be studied on microfilm. Contact the libraryto book a microfilm reader.

Hull History Centre holds newspapers for Hull

Hull History Centre (external website)

Civil registration records

Birth, marriage and death certificates were introduced in 1837. Before then records were kept by churches. Births and deaths are recorded by Register Officers. To get copies of birth and death certificates you will need to contact the local register officeror the national General Register Office (GRO). They also have records of marriages. You can apply for certificates online.

The national General Register Officer (external website)

Parish registers

These registers record baptisms, marriages and burials in the Church of England. The oldest records begin between 1538 and 1598 although the earliest ones might not have survived. There can be gaps during the Civil War and Commonwealth period c.1640-1660 when records were often not properly kept.

We hold the records for the Archdeaconry of the East Riding, which includes Hull and Scarborough. Most of these are available on microfiche (reference PE) as part of our self-service system to preserve the original volumes.

You can find out more about what parish registerswe hold here.

Nonconformist registers

Nonconformists are those who belong to Protestant churches other than the Church of England; this includes Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Quakers. Many of these kept registers of births or baptisms and deaths or burials.

Marriages between 1754 and 1836 had to be conducted in an Anglican church, except for Jews and Quakers, and should be recorded in the parish registers. Marriages could take place in nonconformist chapels from 1837 in the presence of a civil registrar who recorded the ceremony.

Many early nonconformist registers were passed to the Registrar General in 1840 and these are held at The National Archives in London. We have microfilm copies of many of the East Riding and Hull ones this series also includes some Catholic registers.

You can find out more about what non Church of England registerswe have here.

Cemetery records

Most people were buried in a Church of England churchyard until the middle of the 19th century. Public cemeteries administered by local authorities came into use as the population grew and the churchyards became overcrowded. Most cemeteries were owned and managed by district, town or parish councils.

The following document is a list of cemetery records we hold.

Cemetery records leaflet (pdf 39kb opens in new window)

The archives and local studies service holds copies of monumental inscriptions and Bridlington and Goole librarieshold them for churchyards in their areas.

Census

The first national census was taken in 1801 and one has been completed every 10 years since then, except in 1941. Information from the national census returns for 1841-1901 can also be searched online via the Ancestry.library edition in the research room at the Treasure Houseor your local library.

Electoral Registers and Poll Books

Electoral registers list the individuals entitled to vote at elections, which was originally based on a property qualification.

Directories

Directories can be useful for tracing families between the census years and in the 20th century. The number of people listed in each directory is however limited and the information may not have been up to date when it was published.

Wills and Probate Records

Wills can be a useful source as they often contain bequests to family members and can provide information about family relationships. A will has to be ‘proved’ after the person has died to be legally valid. Wills before 1858 were proved in church courts, after that date they were the responsibility of civil probate registries.

Further information about wills held is available in the following leaflet.

Wills leaflet (pdf 25kb opens in new window)

School Records

The records which generally are of most use to family historians are the admission registers. These can include the name and address of the child and parents, the child’s date of birth, the date of admission and often the date they left school.

Some school records are closed because of the personal information that they contain, particularly those relating to the reform schools.

Court Records

The administration of justice took place at various courts depending on the nature and severity of the offence. These included the local Quarter Sessions for minor crimes and the Assize courts for more serious ones, in particular capital crimes.

The Quarter Sessions was originally also responsible for various administrative or non-judicial matters and its records may contain information about lunatics, alehouse licensing, land tax and poor relief as well as many other subjects.

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Can I do my family history online?

Yes some of it. There are lots of resources for family history on the internet. These can be a really good place to start your research. When you get further in your research you will probably need to visit a record office or archive.

You can use computers in the Treasure Houseor in your local libraryfor free to visit websites including Ancestry.com Library edition online. You will need your library card number, and to sign the acceptable use policy at libraries to sign onto this service.

The following are some of the most useful sites:

Ancestry

Ancestry's website provides information from censuses, birth, marriage and death records and a huge range of other resources. Included are records for the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and information from many European countries. Information is also available on transportation and immigration/emigration.

Ancestry (external website)

genuki

This is the genealogy information service for the UK and Ireland and it runs as a charitable trust. It has links with the Federation of Family History Societies, The Society of Genealogists and Rootsweb. There is a vast amount of genealogical material available on this site and it can be accessed via local areas.

Genuki (external website)

Family Search

This is produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah). The 1881 Census for England is included, and the IGI. (International Genealogical Index) which is a selection of entries from Parish Registers extending circa 1550 – 1850 in some cases. The information should be taken as a guide and the original documents should be checked to confirm details. It also exists as a CD and on microfiche, and the larger local studies libraries have it in those formats as well.

Family Search (external website)

one-name

This is the umbrella group for the One-Name Study organisation based at the Society of Genealogists in London. A Register of One-Name Studies is included that is available for checking free of charge. (7000 surnames)

One-Name (external website)

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This lists all military casualties from World War I and World War II often with a picture of the cemetery and details of the next of kin.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission (external website)

direct.gov

The Government’s principal e-portal. Search the site for “Family history” to find guides to researching family trees, and to order certificates online.

Direct Gov (external website)

The National Archives

The official archive for England, Wales and the central UK government. Based in Kew. Contains “1000 years of history from Domesday book to the present”, with records from parchment scrolls to digital files and archived websites.

The National Archives (external website)

General Register Offices births, marriages and deaths

General Register Offices Birth, Marriages and Deaths (GRO BMD) is based on secondary indexes from the General Register Office. The local BMD on this site consists of indexes created from the original registration entries held by local registrars, and so is generally more accurate.

General Register Office (external website)

Genealogical directories and lists

This consists of genealogical directories and lists on the Internet. The site includes links to school lists, trade directories, electoral rolls old photographs, etc.

Genealogical directories uk (external website)

Military family history

Military family history on the Internet. Includes muster rolls, discharge papers, pension records and much more.

Military family history (external website)

Freebmd

For indexes of births, marriages and deaths.

Freebmd (external website)

Yorkshire bmd (external website) Top of page


Where in the East Riding can I go to do my family history?

You can use computers in the research room at the Treasure House or in your local library. You will need a library card, and to sign the acceptable use policy at libraries to use this service.

Although you can find lots of information online, at some point you will probably need to go to a local record office or archive. The East Riding archives and local studies service provides this service for the East Riding. The service is based in the Treasure House building in Beverley. Here you will be able to look at parish registers and other local archives that will help you with your family history.

For families who came from Bridlington or Goole, there are local studies libraries in these places that may help you with your family history.

If your family came from outside of the East Riding then you may have to visit another record office or archive. Archon is a directory of local archives.

Archon (external website)

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Can I search for my family history at Goole and Bridlington libraries?

Yes. Both Bridlington and Goole Libraries house a Local Studies collection, and like all libraries they have books for loan on tracing your family tree. You can search the library catalogue for books to help you with your research. You can use the library computers to access a range of useful websites. Find out about how to join the libraryhere.

A variety of family and local history magazines are also full of tips on tracing your family tree, and both libraries hold Parish registers, Poll Books, Registers of Electors and Trade Directories for Goole, Bridlington and surrounding areas.

You may find reports on family members, wedding photographs or other relevant articles in local historical newspapers. You can book a microfilm reader for up to one hour at a time.

There are also local Monumental Inscriptions detailing many churchyards and cemeteries throughout the area. The cemeteries service also holds records of burials in cemeteries.

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Do you run any family history classes?

Yes, we do run classes on researching your family history.

2015 Family History Course

Family history is a fascinating and rewarding pastime. Whether you are a complete beginner or have been researching your family tree for a while, expert tutors from the Archives service will teach you the skills you need to find out more about your ancestors. During the course you’ll be introduced to all the different records you need to start tracing your family tree. 

The course is held on Thursday evenings, 6pm-7.30pm and runs for 10 weeks (covered in 11 sessions).

Cost

The course costs just £60 for the full 10 weeks.

How to book

To register or find out more information call Archives and local studies enquiries (at the Treasure House) on:

Telephone: (01482) 392790 (Monday to Saturday).

Bookings can also be made in person at the Treasure House (Archives and Local Studies). Please book in advance to reserve your place on the course.

Course dates

Thursday, 15 January 2015 - Starting your Family History

Thursday, 22 January 2015 - Using the historic Census

Thursday, 29 January 2015 - Using Civil Registration records for Family History

Thursday, 5 February 2015 - Preparing to use original archives

Thursday, 12 February 2015 - Parish registers and cemetery records

Thursday, 19 February 2015 - HALF TERM (Drop in family history surgery)

Thursday, 26 February 2015 - School and poor law records

Thursday, 5 March 2015 - Directories, newspapers and Electoral registers

Thursday, 12 March 2015 - Records of Crime, life and work

Thursday, 19 March 2015 - Using the records of Wills and property for Family History

Thursday, 26 March 2015 - Researching military ancestors


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