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Tips for first time visitors to local records cent

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Frances Report 14 May 2007 20:55

thank you for a brilliant right up ive never been to a centre, one day id like to get to get to one. money wise how much would i need to take? fran

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 21:27

Frances, there is no fee to actually get into the centres (or not any that I've been to) and the reader's card is free and is valid for four years. Once you have one, you can use the same card at a lot of other centres. The £1.00 that you put in your locker (if the centre has lockers), you get back: it's just a deposit. I'm not sure how much things like scans cost, but photocopies are usually cheap. If you are copying a page from a book for instance, it would cost the same as you might pay anywhere for a standard photocopy - about 10p. You can save a lot of money on buying marriage certificates by asking for a copy of an entry from a parish record. A marriage certificate ordered from a local registry office or the GRO costs £7.00 and the price of return postage. If you don't know the date of the marriage, they will charge an additional fee for looking it up for you. A scan/photocopy from a local records centre costs about £1.00. Of course, you don't have to have any of these: I hardly ever do. I just make lots of notes. In that case, all it will cost you is the transport cost of getting there! I hope you enjoy your first visit. Amanda x


Joy Report 14 May 2007 22:09

Thank you, Amanda. When I have had photocopies made at a records office, the charge has been about 10p per page. Also, not all charge for lockers for coats etc.


Anne Report 14 May 2007 22:55

Don't forget to take the correct pair of specs with you! The last time I went I forgot the pair I use for the computer and microfiche screen. Varifocal wearers will know the sort of crick I had in my neck after a few hours at the microfiche with my head tipped back to see properly!! Anne

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 23:11

If, like me, you suffer from motion sickness, you may find that using the microfilm/fiche readers makes you feel a bit sick. Try to avert your face rather than look at the screen as you wind on/off, as watching the images go by at speed can be a problem. Wind on slowly and even move the reels by hand rather than using the buttons as this slows things down a lot. Take regular breaks, stretch your legs and pop outside for fresh air if need be.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 23:18

If note taking is a problem for you, invest in a basic digital camera. As long as you ask first, they will let you photograph many things. You can then review your 'finds' at your leisure and save them onto your computer. Do ask first, though.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 15 May 2007 00:51

When searching older parish records, be flexible with regard to the spellings of names. Until the mid 19thC many ordinary people would not have been able to write. Their names and details would have been written and spelt according to how they sounded to the vicar/priest - much the same as with census information given to the enumerator. You might find a surname spelt differently in the records of neighbouring parishes or in the same parish records but by different priests at different times. A different spelling doesn't mean they're not the right people or not related to another family with the same surname, but spelt differently.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 20 May 2007 19:15

nudge for Kate

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 Jun 2007 22:00

nudge for Pat


Elaine Report 14 Jun 2007 22:29

hi amanda, thanks will save for when i go elaine

Pat from Wesham

Pat from Wesham Report 14 Jun 2007 22:32

Nudge thank you Pat.


silvery33 Report 14 Jun 2007 22:33

nudge for future use Y


Christine Report 14 Jun 2007 22:36

nudge for later Chris

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 24 Jul 2007 23:58

nudge for Margaret Weaver

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 25 Jul 2007 17:40


(¨*•.¸(¨*•.Pauline loving my grandson(¨*•.¸(¨*•.

(¨*•.¸(¨*•.Pauline loving my grandson(¨*•.¸(¨*•. Report 14 Oct 2007 11:17



Frances Report 14 Oct 2007 12:03

so if i go to one of these places to find a wedding would it give me more imfo than whats on a wed cert


Neil Report 11 Nov 2007 19:51



Madmeg Report 11 Nov 2007 23:46

I recently visited my local records centre, well armed with info to search for, but found nothing.

For example, I wanted to find the baptism of William Needham in 1796 in Tideswell, Derbyshire. Nothing.

There was only one church in Tideswell in those days, C of E. The baptism is on the LDS site, I wanted confirmation of it.

Why did I not find it? I went through at least 30 reels of film, the dates are in such random order, you can get a reel which has baptisms 1700-1739, marriages 1715-1780, more baptisms, 1750-1780, burials different dates, and there is absolutely no way of knowing what you are looking at on the reel.

For example, you can see William Needham 1821, son of George Needham, and you have no idea whether you are looking at a baptism or a burial.

Most are totally unreadable, never mind the varifocals, take a magnifying glass, which I did, but I spent the whole day there and found nothing.

What should I do for future visits to be more fruitful?


Amanda S

Amanda S Report 16 Nov 2007 13:56


I'm sorry you had such a fruitless experience. unfortunately, it just happens that way sometimes.

Judging by what you've said about the very disorganised way in which the data has been arranged and filmed, it could be that the page you need has been damaged or is lost.

Alternatively, it could be that you have seen the information you wanted but haven't recognised it as such because of the way it has been presented. As you say, you sometimes found it hard to tell if the reference was to a baptism or a burial. Having said that, there are usually (though sadly not always)other clues that help, such as mention of the person's age. Advanced years would obviously suggest a burial rather than a baptism. Also, with baptisms, the parents' names are usually recorded, though not in some very early registers. It is much less common to find parents' names next to burial entries.

Another possibility might be that although there was one parish church in that area, it might have had a number of subsidiary chapelries that came under its umbrella. The IGI reference may relate to the "mother church" but the baptism may have taken place at one of the chapelries.

It sounds to me like you prepared well and did everything right. You were just unlucky. One word of advice I would offer is that 30 reels are FAR too many to look at in one day and actually I can't understand how you (physically) managed it. I would expect that if you were to spend a whole day on careful, detailed reading, you would not be likely to get through more than four full reels, depending on how much info was on each one.

I would suggest that when, after many hours of reading, you start to feel frustrated and know you've had enough, call it a day. those reels are not going anywhere and you can look again with fresh eyes another time. Once our eyes get tired it can be easy to miss things, especially if the text is particularly difficult to read anyway.

Good luck in the future