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Archives for family and local history

You can use archives to research family history and local history. You can start your research at home as many archives are online, including the 1901 and 1911 censuses, General Register Office records and the Public Record Office files.

General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI)

GRONI holds civil birth, adoption, death, marriage and civil partnership records. It also maintains a public search room where you can search computerised indexes. The index provides name, date and place of event.

To find out more about GRONI, what records are available and how to search for records online, visit the GRONI pages on nidirect.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

PRONI is the main archive for Northern Ireland and holds millions of documents, covering a period from 1600 to the present day. These include valuable genealogical sources such as church registers, landed estates records, court records and wills.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is located in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. When you visit PRONI, staff can help you identify which archives might hold the information you want.

For more information about PRONI services, to start your research or access online archives, visit the PRONI website.

1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland

A census gathers statistics about citizens - age, religion, employment status, health and living arrangements. You can search and view online the 1901 census and 1911 census for free.

To use the service, insert the details of the person you are researching and click 'search'. You can also search the census records by place, and view your ancestors' neighbours, or get information about the place they lived in.

The National Archives of Ireland and Library of Ireland

The National Archives of Ireland and National Library of Ireland hold information mainly about the Republic of Ireland.

The National Archives

The National Archives (TNA) UK also holds information about Irish history and genealogy, including military service records for England, Wales and the United Kingdom.

You can search the 'catalogue', a database containing 9.5 m descriptions of documents from central government, courts of law and other UK national bodies, including records on family history, medieval tax, criminal trials, UFO sightings, the history of many countries and many other subjects.

The National Records of Scotland

The National Records of Scotland was established on 1 April 2011, following the merger of the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) and the National Archives of Scotland (NAS).

Each collection of records held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) has a catalogue or index to help you find the right material. Catalogues are lists of archives according to where they came from and when they were created (their provenance). The catalogues have an alpha-numeric reference system, for example HD4/5.

Indexes by surname, placename or topic are sometimes made of certain types of record to allow you to find individual documents easily.

The Debt of Honour Register

The 'Debt of Honour Register' from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists the 1.7m men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars.

If you know the name - or surname - of someone who gave their life during one of the world wars, you can search the register to find details such as:

  • where they are buried
  • their regiment and rank
  • the date they died

The database also holds details of the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations world-wide where they are commemorated. You can search for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War.

  • Research world war casualties (CWGC website)

Other sources of family and local history

Many areas now have local or family history societies which you can join. Websites hosting genealogical information are also available. Some of these are only available by subscription or pay-per-view basis. Many offer full or partial access to sources free of charge.

Libraries often hold sources for local and family history, particularly those which have a dedicated local studies section.

More useful links