Online Catalogues for the UK

Archives Wales forms part of the UK National Archives Network, an initiative to provide access to online catalogues of UK archives. All these websites allow cross-searching of the catalogues of groups of repositories of particular types or in specific areas.  Many archive repositories also have their own online catalogues accessible through their websites.  

Access to Archives (A2A)
archives held in local archives in England

Archives Hub
archives in UK universities and colleges – also includes some other repositories

archives held in a wide variety of repositories in London and the M25 area

archives held in repositories in Scotland

National Archives for the UK and Ireland

All these websites include information for researchers, practical information for visitors, and a complete or partial online catalogue of their holdings

The National Archives [of the UK]

The National Archives of Scotland

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

The National Archives of Ireland

Local Archives in the UK

Contact details and web addresses of almost all the repositories in the UK which hold archives can be found on the ARCHON website

Using Archives

Guidance on using archives can be found on a number of websites, including the following:

Reading old handwriting (palaeography) – an interactive guide

University of Leicester palaeography tutorial

Reading Latin – online tutorials

Websites for family history research

There are an enormous number of websites for family historians, of which a small number – which we think are especially useful or important – are listed below.

General advice and links to other sites

From the National Archives

From the BBC

Cyndi’s List of genealogy sites on the Internet

Certificates of birth, marriage and death

General Register Office
Information on civil registration and links to ordering certificates.  Indexes to births, marriages and deaths are not available on this site.

Free access to the indexes to births, marriages and deaths. Not yet complete.

Subscription/pay per view access to the indexes to births, marriages and deaths.  Available free of charge in most archives and libraries in Wales.

Find My Past
Subscription/pay per view access to the indexes to births, marriages and deaths.

BMD Index
Subscription/pay per view access to the indexes to births, marriages and deaths.
Census returns 1841-1901.  Subscription or pay-per-view.  Available free of charge in most archives and libraries in Wales.

Find My Past
Census returns 1841-1901.  Subscription or pay-per-view.

British Origins
1841, 1861 and 1871 censuses.  Subscription site.

Family Search
1881 census only. Free

1901 Census Online
1901 census only. Pay-per-view.
1911 census for most of England.  The northern counties of England and all of Wales will be added during the course of 2009. Pay-per-view.

Parish Register Indexes

The following websites include indexes to parish registers for some parishes in England and Wales.  It should be emphasised that none of the indexes include all entries for all parishes – if you don’t find a relevant entry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t such an entry, it may be that it hasn’t been put on the index.  A number of websites covering local areas are also available – these have not been listed here.

Family Search
International Genealogical Index – compiled over many years from parish registers and other records.  Free to use.

A relatively new website – coverage small but growing.  Free to use.

Find My Past
Indexes and transcripts from a number of sources, principally family history societies.  Coverage is limited.  Subscription or pay-per-view.

Nonconformist registers

BMD Registers
Pre-1837 nonconformist registers. Subscription or pay-per-view.


Historical Directories
A selection of directories for England and Wales. Searchable, and free of charge.


PCC Wills
Wills proved in the Province of Canterbury before 1858.  The wills are those of people who had property in the southern counties of England, or who lived elsewhere and wished to have their will proved in Canterbury.  There is a charge for a downloadable copy of a will.

British Origins  
A number of different will indexes, mainly pre-1858. Subscription site

Probate Service
Information on wills after 1858, and contact details for applications for copies of wills.  


Welsh mariners
An index of 22,000 Welsh merchant masters, mates and engineers active from 1800 to 1945.

Crew List Index Project
Database of some entries from crew lists 1861-1913.  A lot of useful background information and links to other sites.

Coal Mining History Resource Centre
Includes national database of mining deaths and injuries in Great Britain

Royal Navy
Service records for ratings who joined the Navy between 1853 and 1923.
Index search free, charge for copy of image

First World War – medal cards
Effectively a database of soldiers who saw service overseas.  Index search free, charge for copy of image

Old occupations and scroll down to ’Glossary of ranks, professions, occupations and trades’

Family History in Scotland

Gives access to certificates (not just indexes) of birth, marriage and death; census returns; parish registers; wills and testaments. Subscription or pay-per-view.

Family History in Ireland

Census of Ireland 1911
Counties of Antrim, Down, Dublin and Kerry only at present.  Free of charge.

Irish Family History Foundation Online Record Search
Index free to use, then pay for record

Irish Genealogy Ltd.
A ’signposting’ service.  Can search on a name with date, place etc. – search results direct you to a genealogical centre.  Also has online form to commission specific research.  No direct access to any records


Gazettes (London, Edinburgh, Belfast)
All official notices were published in the Gazettes, so they include a wealth of information for family historians – for example names of all commissioned officers, notices of bankruptcies, changes of name by deed poll.  Nearly 350 years of the Gazettes can be searched free of charge.

Lists of Family History Societies


Federation of Family History Societies

House History and Local History

BBC  House History
Advice on using archives to trace the history of a house

BBC Local History Trail
Advice on starting local history research

Ordnance Survey maps
Information on buying historical Ordnance Survey maps

Coflein is the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW). It allows access to details of many thousands of archaeological sites, monuments, buildings and maritime sites in Wales, together with an index to the drawings, manuscripts and photographs held in the NMRW archive collections. For some items, images as well as catalogue entries are available.

Census Returns


Archives for teachers

The National Archives Learning Curve
A free online resource for teaching and learning history, using archives held at the National Archives.

Archives for Academic Research

The National Archives – academic research

Guidance on where to start academic research using archives

Explore images of archives

Most archive websites contain information and / or catalogues, perhaps with a small number of images of documents.  However, there are some websites which contain large numbers of digital images of archives.

Gathering the Jewels
contains over 30,000 images of items from museums, libraries and archives in Wales

National Library of Wales Digital Mirror
contains images of a small number of archives held at the National Library.

Coflein, the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales, includes a growing number of images of items.

Community Archives Wales
Digital community archives are collections of material in private hands that have been digitised and interpreted by community groups, enabling the communities to present their own history in their own words. A number of community groups in Wales have come together to provide this site.