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local studies & family history

Discover the past of people and places, in and around Nottingham.

Now open to visits in person!

Contact us to use the remote enquiry service, or use the online resources listed on this page.

This service is now open for people visiting in person at the New Central Library in the Broadmarsh development. You can still send your query in via email and there are still lots of free online resources selected by the Local Studies staff on this page.

Resources in other libraries

Find My Past, for researching family history, and the British Newspaper Archive are still available to use free of charge via PCs in the Nottingham Central Library and our other libraries.

Contact the Local Studies team
Microfilm on a reel

Newspapers on microfilm

The newspapers on microfilm have now been relocated to the new Nottingham Central Library at the Broad Marsh.

Please contact the Local Studies team by email with any enquiries regarding the microfilms at localstudies.library@nottinghamcity.gov.uk.

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Find My Past & British Newspaper Archive

  • Did you know? We have a research and enquiry service, electoral register searches for dates pre-2010, plus recommended websites for Family History and more. You can access these services remotely or visit the Local Studies Library.
  • You can browse the collection at the Local Studies Library and you are also able to reserve some of the books on our online catalogue, and we have click & collect available. There are also small Local Studies Collections in many of our other libraries.

You can access Find My Past and British Newspaper Archive online at any Nottingham City Library, via the library computers there.

1921 Census

The 1921 Census is here

Was your grandmother a female pioneer like Dorothy Levitt, the first female racing driver? Was your grandfather one of the last mole catchers?

The 1921 Census of England & Wales is a detailed snapshot of 38 million lives and it is exclusively available on Find My Past, giving access to over 18 million digitised records.

FREE in all Nottingham City Libraries.

White wall covered in photo frames containing pictures of historical Nottingham.

Picture Nottingham

Nottingham Local Studies work with Picture Nottingham to host over 20,000 photos from over 150 years of history from the local community, iconic buildings, industry and much more. With postcards, glass plates, engravings and gifts, why not brighten your home with a favourite image.

Want to research your family history?

There are lots of free online resources to help get you started. If you have no experience of family history research, don’t worry.

There are some excellent guides for first-time researchers available online, including GENUKI, just search their quick links, and the Society of Genealogists, click on Learn on their website.

Don’t forget, pop in to the New Central Library now it has opened, to carry on your research and tap into resources only available in the Local Studies collection.

Our staff picks:

Founded in 1917, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission aims to honour the 1.7 million who died in both World Wars.  Find out about the history of the commission and use the search facility to find information about those who died in war as well as details about specific cemeteries.


Deceased Online gives access to UK cemetery records by country, region, county, burial authority or name.  Search for free and get a brief summary of results; note: there is a charge for access to the grave details, burial register scan and grave location. 


Family Search contains thousands of family history records from around the world which are free to search. Note: registration is required to use the website, but there is no charge for use.


FreeBMD provides free to search Civil Registration indexes of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales births from 1837 to 1983.


Use FreeCEN to search census transcripts for England, Wales and Scotland from 1841 to 1891.  Nottinghamshire has 100% coverage for all census years, but this is an ongoing project and not all counties have full coverage.


FreeREG gives access to transcripts of parish registers for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, although be aware that coverage varies – check coverage by county under the ‘transcription’ heading.  Records include Anglican, Catholic and non-Conformist records with several search filters to narrow your search.


Use the GRO website to freely search birth and death indexes.  The birth indexes include the mother’s maiden name, and death registrations include age at death.  You will need to register before you can search (which is free) or to purchase certificates – to register or to login and search use the ‘order certificates online’ option.


Genuki is a reference library of genealogical information with particular relevance to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Find out historical details about counties and places, as well as a wealth of subjects from wills to census returns, churches to maps.


Search for 1st World War military and civilian Prisoners of War from the International Red Cross archives.  Results include details of regiment, next of kin and place of internment, as well as tips to help with your search. 


The Nottinghamshire Great War Roll of Honour is a searchable archive as well as a permanent tribute to local men and women who died during the First World War.  Names have been collected from across 677 Nottinghamshire memorials in villages, town centres, churches and churchyards, parish halls, places of work, schools and sports clubs. 


The War Graves Photographic Project aims to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day, for all nationalities and military conflicts, and make them available on a searchable database. 


The government’s Wills and Probate website holds English and Welsh records from 1858 to the present day.  Search is free with an option to purchase a copy of a will for a small charge.


Nottingham’s Green Places is a community history project which investigates the social history of some of Nottingham’s parks and open spaces. Find out when the parks were opened and how they have changed over time, and discover the tree trail which guides you through Nottingham’s enclosure parks highlighting some of the best and most interesting trees in our city. 


The Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway, designed by Nottinghamshire’s Thoroton Society, hosts a variety of county-wide heritage resources. Search by place, people, themes and events to find a brief overview of a local topic plus a list of key resources for further research.                                


The Nottinghamshire History website hosts a wide range of digitised books and articles reflecting the rich and fascinating history of the county.  Browse through the ‘people’ and ‘places’ of Nottinghamshire, or search for a specific name or place. 


Nottingham Local History Association was established in 1953 to bring together people and organisations interested in history and heritage in Nottinghamshire.  Their website includes a regular newsletter, as well as news items and useful information about local history societies.


The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire is the main historical and archaeological society.  Established in 1897 it is named in honour of Dr Robert Thoroton who published the first history of Nottinghamshire in 1677.  Find out about the society, as well as their current projects, newsletters and publications.


Our Notts is a forum all about you, where you can share your memories, photographs and stories about Nottinghamshire history.  Browse pages about local people, places and subjects, add comments or even create your own pages.


Historical directories are a cross between modern day Yellow Pages and gazetteers. They list local businesses and individuals.

Visit Historical Directories website to view over 680 digitally scanned directories for England and Wales from the 1760s through to the 1910s.  With at least one directory for every English and Welsh county for the 1850s, 1890s and 1910s, search for a person, place or occupation.


Historical directories can be useful to local and family historians by:

  • Locating an individual, either by name, address or occupation
  • Discovering who has lived at a particular address
  • Finding out about the types of trades and occupations done in the past
  • Observing how a town or village developed over a number of years

Nottingham Insight is Nottingham City Council’s dynamic mapping website for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. With a variety of resources from historical maps to current road maps as well as aerial views, look up your street, see local information about your area or go back in time to see how it has changed. 


Want help to use the website, you can view a help video here.

The National Library of Scotland website contains digitised maps from their collection covering Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, as well as the rest of the world.  Search, view and download a range of maps from Ordnance Survey maps to those showing land use, soil and geology.


Discover More

Chai Experience pink and blue logo

Chai Experience

Capturing the memories of the South Asian community who came to Nottingham in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
Find my Past logo

Find My Past

Find My Past helps you research your UK family history through census records, birth, marriage and death records, parish records including Nottinghamshire, military, education and cemetery records.
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Research & enquiry service

Do you need some extra help with research? Our specialist team may be able to help.

Searches can be carried out on local, house, place and family history, and research is undertaken by an experienced, trained, team member. We request a maximum of 3 hours research per order, and charges & fees apply.

Electoral Registers

The Nottingham Local Studies Library holds the following electoral registers:

  • County of Nottinghamshire from 1838 to 2000
  • City of Nottingham from 1838 onwards, excluding the years 1913-1932.

Electoral registers prior to 2012 are held on microfiche and can be viewed in the Local Studies Library without appointment. Please contact staff on the email below for further information and if you would like to reserve a microform scanner.

Viewing the current electoral register

The current register for the city of Nottingham must be viewed in person either at the Nottingham Local Studies Library in Nottingham Central Library or at Electoral Services in Loxley House, Station Street, Nottingham. Staff cannot respond to requests to check the register by telephone or email.

To make an appointment to view the current register, either email the Nottingham Local Studies Library on localstudies.library@nottinghamcity.gov.uk or email or call Electoral Services on elections@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

(0115) 876 4111.

Please note that you will be asked to complete a form prior to viewing the register, and be aware that the register is arranged by electoral ward and street – there is no surname index.

The current electoral registers for locations outside of Nottingham are held at the relevant borough council for that area.

Do you need some extra help with research? Or do you have a detailed enquiry that you don’t have time to follow up? Our specialist staff may be able to help.
Searches can be carried out on local, house, place and family history.

The research is undertaken by an experienced, trained member of staff.

We will accept a maximum of 3 hours research per order.

Public rateFirst half hour of research is free, plus charge for copies and administration (max of 3 free enquires per year).

Research after the first 30 minutes: £10 per half hour, plus charge for copies and administration.
Commercial rateResearch: £20 per half hour, plus charge for copies and administration.

Reproduction Services : specialist printing and copying

A4 Black and White£0.50 per side
A3 Black and White
£1.00 per side
A4 Colour£1.00 per side
A3 Colour£2.00 per side
Scanned copying (digital reproduction)£1.00 per item
Administration charge£4.00 per 10 items

Specialist Research and Enquiry Service

Public rateFirst half hour of research is free, plus charge for copies and administration (max of 3 free enquires per year).

Research after the first 30 minutes: £10 per half hour, plus charge for copies and administration.
Commercial rateResearch: £20 per half hour, plus charge for copies and administration.

All the main Nottinghamshire county newspapers have been preserved on microfilm, and are held at libraries in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Each title is kept at the most appropriate location for its coverage. 

If you are making a special journey to look at newspapers, it is advisable to contact the library in advance to book a microfilm reader, and to check availability of the film. 

The British Newspaper Archive provides access to several local papers and is available to use free of charge from library premises.

The collection includes recorded interviews with ordinary people, as well as some well-known names, who lived and worked in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

They recall their memories of work at Boots, Players or Raleigh, in the lace and textile industries, in the countryside, down the mines and in a variety of other jobs.

They also tell of life on the dole, home life, schooldays, entertainments and social life.

The Local Studies Library maintains an index of performances at Nottingham City’s major theatrical venues from the early 1900s to date. The index is a record of local productions and local performances by significant artists, and also an aid to finding playbills, programmes and ephemera associated with each production.

The main index may be viewed in the Local Studies Library.

The index, originally compiled by Nottingham born W.E. Doubleday (1865-1959) is a major resource containing information on Nottinghamshire people, places and events, from the earliest times to the present day.

Nottingham born W.E. Doubleday spent his life recording information about Nottinghamshire and the Local Studies Library has added to the index, making it a valuable, unique resource for researchers. It can be viewed in the Local Studies Library at Nottingham Central Library.

The Index reflects the wide diversity of industries that have existed in Nottinghamshire and helps to illustrate the change over time from a manufacturing to a more service based local economy and is updated on a regular basis.

Almost every sector of local industry and commerce is represented in the Nottinghamshire Companies Index, including:

  • chemical industries (such as Boots)
  • coal mining and its ancillary industries
  • construction industries (such as Trent Concrete and Kirton Brickworks)
  • designers (such as Paul Smith)
  • engineering companies (such as Brough Superior and Raleigh)
  • food and drink manufacturers (such as Castle Rock Brewery and Pork Farms)
  • textile trades, including lace and hosiery manufacturers (such Thomas Adams and Pretty Polly)
  • tobacco industries (such John Players)

In general, the Index includes only those companies for which there is a significant amount of information available (e.g. news cuttings, annual reports etc). Once a company has been located in the Index, further information may be obtained from the Local Studies Library.


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