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.

Searching the catalogue

In the Newspapers & Family History Reading Rooms you will find an extensive range of family history resources on the UK and Ireland. You will find books, journals, indexes, databases and microfilm collections. Specific genealogical resources include census data, electoral rolls, directories, church registers and indexes to birth, marriage and death records.

You can search our catalogue for the title of a specific publication or browse through books on a particular topic. Or search the catalogue for the name of a family or a place where your ancestors once lived. You may find a 19th century parish register for the town of Giggleswick, Yorkshire; a street directory for Leith, Scotland; online copies of an Irish newspaper called the Skibbereen Eagle from the 1880s or a ships' diary describing the voyage of the steamship Massilia to Australia. We also hold many important indexes, lists and guides produced by British and Irish local family history societies, so it's worth searching the catalogue for the name of a known family history society, to see what titles we might hold.

Catalogue search strategies

The following examples show the type of keywords you can use to find relevant material:

Search for a family: Palgrave family
Search for a topic: Bedfordshire wills or Dublin cemeteries or Devon Family History Society
Search for a place: Fife Scotland

Don't forget, if you have trouble finding the right information you can either contact the Library using the Ask a Librarian service or talk to staff in the Newspapers & Family History Reading Rooms.

Some books to get you started

In the Family History Reading Room you will find many titles that provide an introduction to genealogical research. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.