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 contentHurstbourn Priors, Southampton tithe map 1842, cat. ref. IR30-31-140 (2)

    Tithe tales: what the Tithe Survey records tell us about early Victorian place and society

    The maps and textual records of this vast tax survey date from around 1840, and are a detailed and unique resource for social, local and family historians. They hold information on the use and value of property and owners throughout…

  • Audio contentPortsmouth harbour, with HMS Serapis in foreground, and hulks, 1881, cat. ref. COPY1-54 (671)

    Prison hulks

    In 1776 a new act of parliament was introduced to ‘Authorise for a limited time, the punishment by hard labour of offenders…raising Sand, Soil and Gravel from…the River Thames’. Soon after, the first floating prison, the hulk Justitia, was brought…

  • Audio contentServer room

    How a chisel, a mule, a shipping container and a cloud contribute to family history

    A thought-provoking journey through thousands of years of development of family history record keeping and record preservation. Not all technology over the millennia has changed and, surprisingly, the future is not entirely digital. You’ll see your own family history research…

  • Audio contentCensus 1911 (Red Schedule front), cat. ref. RG 27/8

    Preparing the 1911 census for digitisation

    The National Archives held a one day conference at Kew on Saturday 1 October 2011. The conference brought together an audience wanting to know more about the census, from genealogists to local and social historians. The conference looked at all…

  • Audio content1911-Census

    Making geographical sense of the census

    The National Archives held a one day conference at Kew on Saturday 1 October 2011. The conference brought together an audience wanting to know more about the census, from genealogists to local and social historians. The conference looked at all…

  • Audio contentTNA(PRO)HO338-27 WORLD WAR II BLITZ(Bomb damaged building London)

    Exploding the mysteries of the Bomb Census

    Was your family or local area affected by air raids during the Second World War? This talk explains how you can research details of bombing incidents using the maps, photographs and other records originally made for the Ministry of Home…

  • Audio contentBunhill Fields burial ground, City Road, London, burials 1741-1747, cat. ref. RG 4/3980

    English burial and cemetery records online and on film

    This talk gives an overview of online sources for English burial and cemetery records, including which of the major London cemeteries have online records. Both free and pay-for-view websites, and all parts of the country are covered, though is not…

  • Audio content1911-census-archive

    The 1911 Census: a vision of England

    The 1911 census was the 12th national census of the United Kingdom, and in many ways it represented a watershed in the history of census taking in this country – it was the first to use technology and was by…

  • Audio contentHong Kong colonial cemetery, Image courtesy of Christine Thomas

    The Hong Kong colonial cemetery

    The National Archives provides a treasure trove of material for discovering more about our colonial ancestors. This talk focuses on the former British Colony of Hong Kong – a thriving trading centre and home to merchants, the military and members…

  • Audio contentA group of uniformed policewomen stand on steps

    The Metropolitan Police: an introduction to records of service 1829-1958

    Chris Heather provides a basic outline of the surviving records of service for Metropolitan Police officers, with examples from the records, and an overview of the origins of the service. This will be of primary interest to those with ancestors…

  • Audio contentRG27-8 Census 1911(Red Schedule front)

    Behind the scenes: two centuries of census-taking

    The census has been described as a ‘snapshot in time’, recording the nation as it stands at midnight on one Sunday every ten years. But the preparation for each census started years before each census date, and the collating and…

  • Audio contentGroup of men on beach with curling stones

    Inheritance in Scotland – testaments and retours

    Scottish testaments, loosely called ‘wills’, can be disappointing for genealogists because they often contain very few names, and no details of land and property. This is a consequence of the Scottish system of inheritance up to 1868. However, such details…

  • Audio contentsp9-1-10

    Heralds and heraldry at The National Archives

    The National Archives holds possibly the greatest collection of untapped source material for heralds and heraldry in this country. This lecture examines evidence stretching back over eight and a half centuries: seals, illuminated manuscripts, medieval rolls, treaties, grants of arms,…

  • Audio contentinf-9-375-27-cutting-oats-near-poppleford

    Sources for agricultural labourers

    Its all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that agricultural labourers are boring and that you cant trace anything about them. In fact they can be very interesting, and there’s lots of information to be found if…

  • Audio contentINF2-43-(1210)-Royal-Courts-of-Justice,-The-Strand,--London-1943

    In the High Court of Justice

    ‘In the High Court of Justice’ examines the records of the Chancery Division of the High Court (the post-1875 successor of the Chancery Court). This talk shows what is available and how to find your way around the documents. The…

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