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Tips for first time visitors to local records cent

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Linda Report 7 May 2012 18:58


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 4 Mar 2012 20:48



Kathlyn Report 11 Sep 2011 14:05

In case it has not been mentioned....take a cardigan, the air con can be quite chilly.


Gwyn in Kent

Gwyn in Kent Report 11 Sep 2011 13:30

Nudge for Leanne

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 21 Jun 2011 13:09

May be useful for Joe :)


Linda Report 8 Apr 2011 23:57

nudge for newbies


Vicki Report 8 Apr 2011 20:39

Hi everyone, especially Madmeg - this is how it went.

Up early, caught 2 trains, went with map of Stafford off tinternet & my list of names & dates off my tree which I had already pre-sorted into parishes in Staffordshire. I had 18 b, m & d's I wanted to check. Originally most of these were from the IGI and ranged from 1718 to 1875 and covered just 4 parishes. I wanted to see the registers for myself.

(Also took all the other things you should take - food, water, pencils, spare glasses, money, proofs of ID) - & I'd rung the day before, to book a fiche reader & a seat. Staff were very helpful & explained everything & give me like a short induction. Also had to tell me how to use the fiche reader. Showed me where all the indexes were, etc.

I looked over 10 sets of fiches, some with 2 or 3 slides each, but all clearly labelled. Found most of my stuff, except for 1 burial in 1826 & 1 birth in 1824 which I couldn't find. My biggest surprise was the birth of 'twins, son & daughter', born 05.06.1825. I had seen the 2 names but thought they were just separate births being christened on same day, just for convenience. Another was reading the 1718 birth which was barely legible and was in Latin. Another interesting one was a death at age 'One month within a day and some hours' signed by the Vicar.

It was a great day out, everyone I met was helpful, but I'm a mere beginner. I don't do 'tithe maps' or complex stuff like that. The hardest part is all the pre-work you do before you go. Nor do I know how to get scans or copies of the certificates. Instead, I just wrote down what the registers said. But yes, it was enjoyable & I feel like I've taken another step on the ladder.

Greetings and thanks to all for encouragement.



Madmeg Report 8 Apr 2011 01:46

Well, I wait with interest. Not a clue how use local resources, been to two centres and found nothing, cos I ddnot' know what to do.




Vicki Report 6 Apr 2011 16:37

Just booked in tomorrow for my 1st ever visit to Stafford RO - have been wanting to go for around 18 months, so re-looking up some brilliant tips.

Hope I manage to find something.

Thanks to everyone,



InspectorGreenPen Report 20 Nov 2010 15:39

Lots of useful info. Will bookmark for reference.

P.S. aren't you on the TV just know - Murder in the Library?

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 20 Nov 2010 13:48



Jilliflower Report 6 Nov 2009 11:17

The very first name on the very first record I viewed was my family!! There below were the names of all the siblings! I thought it would always be that easy!
silly me

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 22 Sep 2009 15:53

- for Tetley


Neil Report 17 Aug 2009 22:46



+++DetEcTive+++ Report 23 Jun 2009 18:31

Obviously the Archives you visit have more efficient Air Con, Gwen! Lol.

Gwyn in Kent

Gwyn in Kent Report 23 Jun 2009 00:12

Interesting to see that DET says it could be hot, ... I'd add that it can be quite cold because of all the air conditioning.
Take a long sleeved top even in summer.

Don't spend too much time trying to sort out information at the Records Office. Use the time for gathering information and wait until you're home to find the family groups etc.
Obviously there will be times when you find information that will lead you to look for a further set of facts, eg.finding a father shown as deceased on a marriage cert.and wanting to then find his death.
I find it useful to have an extra 'scrap' piece of paper to write notes to myself. eg. look for death of James SMITH pre 1867. and then follow that up if I have time that day.
As you get to know your family surnames well, you will probably be able to hold 2 or 3 names in your head as you go through parish registers for a place. Make a note of what you look for PLUS the dates searched.
eg. Searched St Marys Portsmouth baptisms 1812 - 1826 for BROWN, WHITE and JONES.
Record where you search, even if you don't find results.

I find an old fashioned exercise book with a margin is ideal for note taking. I put the surname in the margin and can easily find indiduals records, when I get home. At the start of the day, I write down the date and place of the record office / archive. I then know where to return for further information.



Ann Report 22 Jun 2009 23:18

brilliant - thanks

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 16 Apr 2009 22:26



Jacqueline Report 13 Feb 2009 19:34

Researchers in Scotland may like to know that Reg House in Edinburgh do taster sessions which gives a few hours free in the morning or afternoon to do research. The usual cost is £10 for the full day but you can come and go as you please all day after paying.


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 3 Feb 2009 22:59

If I can add to what has already been said, especially if it is your first visit to an archive.

Phone ahead to book
Tell them you it will be your first visit and are there any rules - these have mainly been covered, but it helps to set the ground for you.

If there are any particular records you want to track down (besides Parish records) eg Workhouse/Asylum admissons, let them know in advance as they may be in the original book and you need a desk.

If you are VERY lucky, they may already have found the entry you want on one and located another for you to look at for details.

There is usually a member of staff hovering around the catolgues (which give index numbers for documents) who will point you in the right direction for looking things up.

A microfilm reader room can get VERY HOT if there are lot of machines in use - dress in layers!!!