Researching your ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland

A guide to researching your ancestors in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, using resources at State Library Victoria.

England & Wales

Although regular population counts began in 1801, the earliest national census for England and Wales, which actually listed peoples' names, was in 1841. Subsequent censuses were taken every 10 years. Copies of all censuses are held at the National Archives (UK) however there is a privacy closure period of 100 years, so the the most recent available census is for 1911.

Access from home

Access in the Library

Further information

The 1939 register

Taken at the outbreak of WWII the 1939 register contains the details of 41 million people in England and Wales. Digitised copies of the regster can be accessed through the FindMyPast and Ancestry databases.

State Library Victoria


As of June 15 2020 the Library is open with reduced spaces and services.

Our Ask A Librarian  reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.