Using archives for research

7/10/2020 10:15:51 AM

2. Family history

Getting started

Your older relatives will have a fund of family memories going back in time and they may have valuable family papers, photographs, birth certificates or even a family bible.

Ask where their parents were buried and visit the cemeteries.  You will be amazed at the amount of information you can collect in this way.  Make a simple family tree with yourself at the bottom and the earliest generation known at the top and bring it with you when you first use our services. There are a number of books available which will assist you in this, including. 

  • Mark Herber, Ancestral Trails
  • Peter Christian, The Genealogist's Internet
  • Amanda Bevan, Tracing your Ancestors in The National Archives



Buckinghamshire Archives subscribes to and access to their databases are available here and at any Buckinghamshire library. 

The International Genealogical Index (IGI)

A county by county name index to all British parish registers that have been microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is now included in Family Search, a CD-ROM or internet database of over 400 million records of events from around the world.

Parish registers

We have films of all Buckinghamshire parish registers, bishop's transcripts and pre-1837 nonconformist registers. We also have holds transcripts of many Buckinghamshire parish registers. Buckingham, Chesham and High Wycombe libraries also hold films for parishes in their immediate area. 

Church of England register list
Nonconformist churches register list

General Register Office index of births, marriages and deaths

Since July 1837, all births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales should have been recorded at the General Register Office (GRO). We have microfiche copies of the Indexes for the period 1837-2004. An entry here is often proof enough a family event took place at a particular time, but a full certificate can be ordered from the General Register Office or from local registrars using the reference number in the index.

Census returns

The census is a useful snapshot of the population on a particular night in history.  We have CDs and microform versions of all Buckinghamshire censuses, 1841-1901.  Buckingham, Chesham and High Wycombe libraries also have returns for their immediate areas. 

A useful guide to census returns is Lumas, S, Making Sense of the Census, HMSO, 1997.

National Probate Index

All wills and administrations proved in England and Wales from 1858-1943 should be listed in the National Probate Index.  We have microfiche of the annual printed indexes.  These provide the deceased's name, occupation, address, date and place of death, the names of executors and the value of the estate.


Local newspapers provide an account of the times in which our ancestors lived.  There are reports of town meetings, legal proceedings and day to day occurrences as well as adverts for property sales. The obituaries are of special value to the family historian.  We have bound copies or microfilms of many local Aylesbury newspapers. High Wycombe Local Studies Library holds films of the Bucks Free Press, Buckingham Library holds films of the Buckingham Advertiser and Chesham Library holds films of the Bucks Examiner.  

Trade directories

Firms like Pigot and Co's and Kelly's produced county directories from the beginning of the 19th century.  We hold most editions covering Buckinghamshire. These directories help you to trace the movements of individual families and are invaluable in giving a precise address in the larger towns where a search through the census returns would otherwise be impracticable. The earliest directory available was published in 1792.  We have indexed some information from Buckinghamshire Trade Directories.

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Last updated: 10 July 2020

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