Family history research

Find out what research and family history resources are available from our library service. Read our tips on how to start your family research. You might also be interested in our Local Studies Library page.

How to start your family research

Family history is one of Britain’s fastest growing hobbies. Finding out about the history of your family can be fascinating, but it can also be also time-consuming and demanding.

Here are our top tips for beginning your research.

Once you have collected your information and made a start on writing things down, you should be able to see what information you need to start looking for.

Your local library will have a number of books on how to research your family tree that you can borrow. These will help you find out what records are available to you and what sort of information you can find from them.

Think about joining your local family history society for a year to meet up with other people who are interested in family history. They could help with your research. If your family are not local to this area think about joining a society from their area instead.

You could even look to see if there is a beginner’s class in family history in the area. This would give you basic help and advice to get you started.

Start with yourself and work backwards checking with original documents every time you can rather than relying on other people’s work.

Don’t make large jumps and assume you will fill in the gap later. Don’t exclude a name because the spelling isn’t the same as spelling has changed over time. Or someone may have written the name as they heard it, rather than asking how to spell it.

You may also have to accept that errors or omissions are sometimes made when original resources are recorded and transcribed.

You need to make sure that you keep good records by making a note of what information you have found and where you found it. Things may be easy at first, but as time passes and your files grow, you may not be able to remember where something came from and you might need to recheck your facts. Also you need to keep a record of what you have looked at so you don’t end up checking things more than once.

Start by interviewing any relatives about what they remember about their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Make a note of everything no matter how strange it seems and who told you the fact. Although everything might not fit together at first, it may later. Memories can play tricks over time so you will need to check these facts against other records.

Look for any birth, marriage and death certificates you or other family members have. Do you have a family bible, a photograph album or postcard collection? Has anyone in the family collected newspaper reports? Did anyone have any war medals? All these things can tell you something about your family.

Write down everything you have already found out, making a note if you have any hard evidence like a marriage certificate. If you aren’t sure of anything put a question mark next to it. These are the things you will need to search for.

Useful resources

The electoral register lists the name and address of everyone who has registered to vote. It is put together by the Elections Office. (This page is about viewing previous and current electoral registers. If are looking for information about registering to vote, please visit our register to vote page)

You can view Scunthorpe Borough registers from 1961 until 1997, and North Lincolnshire registers from 1997 to 2009, at the Central Library. If you wish to view the registers from 2010 onwards, please contact us in advance to ensure availability.

Registers that are under ten years old can only be consulted under supervision, and copied by handwritten notes. You can also see copies of the current register at Barton Library, Brigg Library, and Scunthorpe Central.

The electoral registers are arranged by street name within each town or village. This means that you cannot search the register by surname. Please note that you cannot photocopy the register.

If you have queries about the register, or want to check if you are listed, please contact your local Elections Office.

We have a number of resources available to help with enquiries about Europe.

You can also use the websites below to find out more.

General information

European Parliament


We have registers of baptisms, marriages and burials for parishes in the following deaneries:

  • Axholme
  • Corringham
  • Haverstoe
  • Lawres
  • Manlake
  • West Wold
  • Yarborough

The registers are available to view on microfiche at Scunthorpe Central. If you wish to take prints from the registers you will need to book ahead by contacting the library. There is a charge for microform printouts. Please see our Library fees and charges page for details.

For full details of the parishes and dates that we have records for please see our parish register list [PDF, 98Kb]

Do you live in an old house? Is your house haunted? How many families have lived in your house?

Finding out more about the history of your house is a fascinating and increasingly popular study. There are some general books, which can help you to get started such as ‘Be Your Own House Detective’ by D Austin.

You may also wish to try out some of these websites:

Searching for lost friends and relations

It can be difficult to trace living persons. It will be easier if you know:

  • the person’s full name and date of birth
  • their last known address and when they lived there

There are some resources that the library service can help you access.

Electoral register

Individual printed electoral registers can be seen at Scunthorpe Central – with copies of the current register also held at Barton Library and Brigg Library. There is no index of voters. This limits their useful in tracing people, unless you know all or part of their last known address.

Telephone directories

Scunthorpe Central holds some printed UK directories, and any of our libraries can help you access online directories. You will need to have some idea of which part of the UK the person might be living in to use these effectively. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that many people do not use a land line, or choose to be ex-directory.


Traceline is a fee-based tracking service run by the UK Office for National Statistics.  They will not disclose information about a person’s whereabouts, but will forward a letter.  Application forms can be obtained from: Traceline, PO Box 106, Southport, PR8 2WA.  Tel: 0151 471 4811. The library service has no connection with Traceline, but can provide computer and printing access if you wish to type and print out a letter.


Please note that these are subject to change. There may also be other useful websites not listed here.

Births, marriages and deaths

General Record Office: you can order birth, marriage and death certificates to help you with your search.

FreeBMD: for long-lost persons, this ongoing project aims to transcribe the Civil Registration Index of births, marriages and deaths for the period 1837 to 1983.

192.com: a database of UK telephone directories, births, marriages and deaths, and edited electoral registers from 2003.

Missing persons

Missing People: a UK charity which helps find missing persons.

LookupUK: a website offering advice and links to other databases, as well as a messaging facility.

We have a subscription to three online resources to help with your research.


Thousands of historic records.

Access Ancestry in any North Lincolnshire public building or via the Council Wi-Fi.
No sign in is required, just search for Ancestry Library Edition on any Council or public Wi-Fi network.

Find My Past

Thousands of historic records, including the 1921 Census.

The British Newspaper Archive

An ever-expanding project to digitise the unparalleled newspaper collection in the British Library, covering local, national and world publications from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.

Access both of these resources at the following libraries:
Ashby, Barton, Bottesford, Brigg, Broughton, Crowle, Epworth, Goxhill, Haxey, Kirton in Lindsey, Scunthorpe Central and Winterton.

Library staff will sign you in. You will need library membership to access the resources via library PCs.

They are not available for customers to use outside of the library. There are no extra charges for using these resources and you will only pay for any printouts you make.

Using our PCs you can access:

  • Birth, marriage and death indexes between 1837 – 2005
  • Index to deaths of British service personnel during World Wars One and Two
  • Many other military records, especially from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Historic parish registers dating from 1538
  • Many other records from Anglican, Non-conformist and Roman Catholic places of worship
  • Census returns for England and Wales from 1841 to 1911
  • The 1939 Register
  • Education and work records
  • Prison and workhouse records
  • Historic trade directories
  • Electoral Registers from 1832
  • Passenger lists and other travel records
  • Transportation records
  • Army lists for 1806, 1842, 1863, 1881, 1904, 1915 and 1920
  • Navy lists for 1850, 1866 and 1888

For more information, please contact library.enquiries@northlincs.gov.uk

Scunthorpe Central has online access to the British Newspaper Archive.

The British Library and Brightsolid put millions of pages of Britain’s local newspapers online. It covers the whole country and ranges from the Aberdeen Journal to The Yorkshire Gazette. The archive includes the whole of each paper with news articles, family notices, letters and adverts. You can even search by keyword, name, location, date or title.

The papers cover the period from the early 1700s to the mid 1950s. It allows you to look at events and the stories of how people lived and died. It is a great resource for both family and social historians. New pages and papers are being added all the time.

You can find out more about what the British Newspaper Archive has to offer and search their online indexes. To view and print full articles simply visit Scunthorpe Central in person and ask to use the British Newspaper Archive computer.

If you want your family bible restored, or your family history bound, you might find the following links to local bookbinders useful:

If you are looking for information about ancestors who have been in the military, there are a number of resources that can help you.  Some useful websites are:

If you have an enquiry about any of the material in the Reference or Local Studies libraries, please contact us using our research enquiry form below. (We can also help with homework questions or even that elusive crossword answer).

Please note that enquiries taking longer than 30 minutes to complete will be classed as a research enquiry. If you are unable to visit the library yourself, we can make a limited search of resources on your behalf. If your enquiry takes longer than 30 minutes to research a charge will apply. This charge is for staff time spent on research and we cannot guarantee that we will find relevant information. In these cases we will send you details of the sources checked so that you can exclude them from further investigation. We will also, where possible, suggest other lines of enquiry.

We will spend the first half hour on an enquiry free of charge but any further research after this time will be charged at a rate of £14.10 per hour for North Lincolnshire residents or £25.75 per hour for non-residents (minimum charge of £7.05 or £12.86, respectively). We also charge for postage (at cost).

Any print outs request will be charged for at the following rates per A4 sheet:

  • Copies from online resources: 95p
  • Scan to email: £1
  • Photocopies of microform copies: £1.25

We will advise you of any estimated charges before we start your research. In some cases, there may be copyright restrictions on the information you request. If we do need you to sign a copyright declaration we will send you a form to complete.



01724 860161

Local Studies Library
Scunthorpe Central
Carlton Street
North Lincolnshire
DN15 6TX