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.

Genealogy societies

At some stage you may decide to commission a professional genealogist to carry out research on your behalf. There are many independent researchers operating throughout the British Isles so it's important that you hire a reputable one who specialises in the area you are researching.

The following associations will help you find professional genealogists and research agents. Their websites usually include contact details, areas of expertise, qualifications and information about fees.

Family history societies

There are hundreds of genealogy, family history and local history societies operating throughout the British Isles, including county specific societies, one name societies and specialised groups i.e. the Families in British India Society.

Try and locate a society in the town or county where your ancestors once lived. You will find that most societies have unique collections of local material including published and unpublished works, local indexes, guides, histories, photographs, maps etc. On their websites you will often find online resources, information on their research strengths and publications.Societies are usually staffed by volunteers who have an in depth knowledge of the area and who are often happy to offer basic research advice.

The following websites provide links to the major family history and local history societies throughout the British Isles.