Family history

Researchers and historians from The National Archives and elsewhere offer expert guidance on researching family history and unlocking the multitude of sources available.

  • Audio contentAdmiralty ship Royal Arthur launched (catalogue reference: ADM 176/599/1891

    Three generations of master mariners

    In this talk Len Holder explores the maritime roots of his family. He starts with stories round the dining table and going back in time, to his great-great-grandfather who was a master in sail, and his uncle who also a…

  • Audio contentScience Exhibition, Chromosomes (catalogue reference: WORK 25/214/1951)

    DNA, family history and the population of the British Isles

    Drs Swann and Gleeson cover aspects of DNA testing for family history researchers, with a focus on recent advances. DNA can augment conventional family history and genetic family history will be of increasing importance to medical history. Swann and Gleeson…

  • Audio contentwork25-213-tracing-a-living-person

    Brick walls and lost ancestors

    Even the luckiest of family historians will come up against brick walls from time to time. Dave Annal shows that everyone left a paper trail and that it’s almost always possible to find it. He introduces a number of strategies…

  • Audio contentHearth tax return, including Thomas Farrinor of Pudding Lane (Great Fire of London) 1666., cat. ref. E179-252-32-4

    Hearth Tax: an introduction

    The hearth tax was levied on householders in England and Wales between 1662 and 1689. Records of the assessments, returns and exemptions are a fruitful source for family, local and social historians, as they provide a remarkable insight into wealth,…

  • Audio contentcopy1-550-rugby-tackle-1910

    The Final Whistle: the Great War in 15 players – a London rugby club at war 1914-1918

    A missing war memorial first inspired a quest to discover club members who fell in the Great War. 85 names have now been identified. Some remarkable stories paint a miniature portrait of the whole war – every service, arm, theatre…

  • Audio contentloan-scheme

    What happened before today’s Mutual Credit Unions? An introduction to Friends of Labour Loan Societies 1850s-1930s

    Friends of Labour Loan Societies have been overlooked in analyses of mutual self-help organisations and working class organisations. Starting around 1851, on the initiative of a Chartist activist, these grew to comprise a major section of loan societies granted legal…

  • Audio content"Old and new rates of pay", WW1 poster, cat. ref. ADM 1/8331

    Tracing battalions or regiments of the British Army during the Great War

    This podcast gives you an introduction to the various records at The National Archives that can be used to trace the experiences of individual battalions or regiments during The Great War. These records include unit war diaries, trench maps, Prisoner…

  • Audio contentcopy1-430ii-four-generations-of-the-polkinghorne-family-1897

    Where there’s a will…: probate records for family history at The National Archives and beyond

    Whether your ancestor was leaving a fortune or just a few possessions, or making the parting shot in a longstanding grudge, they may well have left a will to record their last wishes. You may also find other helpful sources…

  • Audio contenttnaprozoer34-17-emigrationembarkation-liverpool-docks-1850

    Tracing Huguenot ancestors

    Between the 16th and 18th centuries, many thousands of refugees fled from religious persecution in the Low Countries and France. These refugees left descendants in Britain and many people have family stories of Huguenot descent. This talk will help you…

  • Audio contentConvict ship Lady Franklin at Port Arthur Tasmania 1900, cat. ref. COPY1/446 f87

    Morbidity and mortality on convict voyages to 19th century Australia

    Between 1803 and 1853 some 67,000 convicts were transported from England and Ireland to the British penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, later renamed Tasmania. Using a detailed reconstruction of 278 voyages (82 carrying female convicts and 196 male) this…

  • Audio contenttnaprorail253-516-world-war-i-photograph-gunner-f-j-serjent

    Marjorie’s War: four families and the Great War

    This podcast is based on the recently published book which tells the story of the author’s grandmother and nine young men from the four families. They were all served as junior officers and between them fought in all the major…

  • Audio contentWedding Party, Mr E W Skinner of Westerham, Kent, 05-10-1891, cat ref COPY 1/406/f388

    Tracing marriages; legal requirements and actual practice, 1700-1836

    Based upon studies of thousands of couples, this podcast explains how, when and where people in past centuries married. Family historians just starting out will find advice on where ‘missing’ marriages are most likely to be found, while those already…

  • Audio contentIllustrated London News, New School Room, Boy's Home, Regent's Park Road, 1870, cat. ref. ZPER 34-56 (P 349)

    Keeping it in the family: professional dynasties in 19th century England

    The 19th century witnessed a huge expansion in the number of people in Britain described as members of a profession, including lawyers, doctors, religious ministers and teachers, as well as newer service providers such as accountants, bankers and civil engineers.…

  • Audio contentPhotograph:Battle between the frigates HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake off Boston during the War of 1812; detail of a lithograph by J.C. Schetky.

    The War of 1812: from the British side

    The War of 1812 features prominently in the history of the United States, especially in this bi-centenary year. But it is much less well-known in the UK, overshadowed by events closer to home. In the US, the Federation of Genealogical…

  • Audio contentKB9-625 (241) Jane Shaxspere coroner’s inquest report 12 Eliz I Hil (drowned in mill pond at Upton Warren, Worcs, aged 2)

    Coroners’ Inquests

    Coroners’ inquests produce a wealth of information for family historians. Ancestors might have been involved in a number of ways, such as members of the jury or another court official or as witnesses. Inquests don’t just reveal how someone died – they…

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