Guide to Family history research

Researching your family history unearths the lives of your ancestors. It builds a map of how people are connected to you and each other, from your own generation to as far back as you can go. We're here to help you discover your roots in East Yorkshire and beyond, whether you're just starting your family tree or you need a hand to dig a little deeper.

Getting started

Family history research is a rewarding pastime, but it is not always easy. You will need to prepare yourself for patience, as it can involve a lot of reading through different types of records.

Like all good adventures, you must start from home. Gather together as much information and records from your family before going elsewhere. Certificates, letters, photographs and family bibles can form your first outline of a family tree, and give you pointers on where to start researching.

Tip: Keep a record of everything that you look at, even if the search was unsuccessful. This means you will be able to find the source again if you want to check the details and you also will avoid repeating the same research.

What to research

Browse through the types of records we hold to find out what you can use for research. Baptism, marriage and burial registers will provide obvious links to family lines, but you can find useful information plus context for the lives your ancestors lived in other records too. Censuses can help find the names and addresses of families.

  • Names
  • Family relationships
  • Dates
  • Occupations
  • Where people lived
  • Which church they attended

Visit the archives

Book a seat in the research room at the Treasure House, in Beverley. Here you can look at historic records and view all our public artefacts. You're welcome just to pop by during opening times, but to make sure you get a seat and have our staff prepare any items before you arrive, it is best to book a seat online. Can't search for yourself but know what you need? You can also pay for research on your behalf.

You can try searching for names in our online catalogue. Staff and volunteers are always adding family names and other descriptions for various historic records into the catalogue to help you find relevant items. This is an ongoing part of our work, and not all items will have been covered.

You can also find local area history, town records, maps and newspapers for Goole and Bridlington at their Local Studies Libraries. Each has a special collection of photos and ephemera relating to their area.

Visit the Archives

Image: Beverley Grammar School [staff] 1910 (archive ref PO-1-14-181)
Image: Beverley Grammar School [staff] 1910 (archive ref PO-1-14-181)

Read all about it!

Newspapers are a great source of information. They include notices of family events, births, marriages, obituaries, court cases and coroners' inquests. East Riding Archives hold many newspapers from the late 18th century to the 21st century, either as originals or on microfilm. Detailed information on individual newspapers is available on request.

Bridlington and Goole Local Studies Libraries hold newspapers for their areas viewable on microfilm by appointment. Hull History Centre holds Hull newspapers.

You can also select from millions of pages of historic newspapers online with the British Newspaper Archive (free in the Archives research room, East Riding Libraries or with an East Riding Libraries membership).

Visit British Newspaper Archive

Research for free with East Riding Libraries

Join East Riding Libraries and you can borrow, download and access lots of helpful guides and research all for free.

Online study

Supplement your research with great online resources

There are lots of useful websites to help you in your family history research. Building a family tree is an ongoing task and cannot be done with online research alone, but by using both visits to archives repositories and online resources to supplement your research, you will make great progress. Here are some useful websites.

Tip: Need a computer or Wi-Fi to get online? All East Riding branch libraries have free-to-use computers and Wi-Fi. Find your nearest library.