British and Irish Genealogical Research in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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The IHR library is a collection of published sources, guides to sources, reference works and periodicals. Although we hold a lot of material of value for genealogical research, the library is not the best starting point - the UK National Archives website has a comprehensive range of guides covering birth, marriage, death, wills, census records among many other subjects which are useful pointers to material held in the National Archives and elsewhere. There are also official guides to the records of Scotland and Ireland. Other organisations are listed below.

The IHR contains valuable resources for researching more specific subjects such as people in certain professions, religious and state office holders. We have a strong collection of local history sources, including many editions of local records and biographical listings. Local record offices, archives and libraries will contain unpublished and more in-depth collections of local material. We hold genealogical resources across all collections covering Western Europe and its colonial history, but this guide focuses on the UK where collections are most complete for this subject. Researchers are welcome to visit the IHR to consult the collections, see further details about our membership. We aren't able to do research for people, but the National Archives maintains a list of researchers who are able to undertake genealogical research.


These are some of the areas of the IHR collections which will be particularly beneficial for genealogical research:

Guides to genealogical research

The collections include a range of research guides ranging from those covering genealogy more generally, to detailed guides to researching people in particular professions, religions, localities, time periods. Examples include:

Collective Biographical works

Image of Burbidge, T. H. (ed.), Durham School Register

The majority of these are shelved at classmark B.2, subdivided as follows:Scottish Biographical Dictionaries and lists classmark BS.1521
Welsh Biographical Dictionaries and lists classmark BW.1521
Irish Biographical Dictionaries and lists classmark BI.112
General Biographical works are at classmark E.22

Wills, Marriage and Visitation records

Editions of wills, bookcover images

Local record society series

Welsh Port Books

Many local record society series publish local sources. The Royal Historical Society produce a useful listing via their website. Examples include:

Trade/street directories

Useful for occupation and address information, advertisements for businesses, and other local listings such as local government office holders. Although we don't have a complete set, we have a substantial collection particularly for the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. London, Irish and Scottish directories are with the relevant collections, those covering the English counties and Wales are in the English local history collection (as the latter cover the English borders and Wales together).

Other collections:

Poll books

Published voting records, including address information. Right to vote was based on land ownership. Ceased after secret balloting was introduced. The IHR has a vast collection, shelved at BC.25 and arranged by English county. Some records from Scotland, Wales and Ireland are also included here. They cover from the early C18th and are particularly strong for the C19th.

Victoria County History

Detailed local history records for many English counties, including lists of local office holders, abbots etc, history of particular manors and land transfers.

Online resources:

Military records

A range of military biographical material is held at the W.3 classmark in the Military collection, including the following:

Electronic resources:


Electronic Resources

A full list of our electronic resources is available at Below are a few examples of resources that could be useful for this subject (most are available onsite in the IHR or via subscription only):

Other relevant organisations

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