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.

Subject librarian

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Ann Copeland
Librarian, Family History Team
State Library Victoria

Contact me via our online reference service citing my name and the title of this guide.
Subjects: Family history

Family history guides


Welcome to the State Library Victoria's guide to researching your ancestors from the British Isles.

This guide introduces you to the basic principles of family history research and looks at many of the essential records and resources you can use to research your ancestors from the British Isles. In this guide we are using the term British Isles to cover the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey).

On the next page Research steps, you will find a list of the key steps that you should follow when undertaking your family history research. Each of the following pages contain information on the many different resources you can use and indicates where and how you can access these collections. Click on each tab to be taken to an introductory page or hover over the tabs to find separate information pages for each country.

If you're interested in researching ancestors who lived in Victoria, we recommend that you go to our Researching your VIctorian ancestors research guide. Or, if you're interested in researching other overseas ancestors, please go to our Researching your overseas ancestors guide.

For detailed research queries please contact the library using the Ask a Librarian service or talk to staff in the Newspapers & Family History Rooms.

This is a work in progress. If you find errors, or if you would like to suggest other information sources please contact me.