Family and local history resources

Being a member of the library gives you access to more than 50 online subscriptions free of charge. When you follow the links below you will be asked for your library card number. For licensing reasons, some of our resources are not available remotely and can only be accessed on computers in particular libraries, therefore no link is given. Ask your local library for more details.

Ancestry Library Edition (all libraries, no remote access)

Start searching billions of records to help discover your family’s story. Key sources include census records. The UK collections offer census records for England, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and Scotland, 1841-1911. There are also sources on Ancestry Library Edition connected with births, marriages & deaths, immigration & travel, military service, wills, probates, land, taxes and crime. A simple search using an ancestor's first name & surname can produce some interesting results, which can be viewed, printed or emailed.

British History Online (all libraries, no remote access)

British History Online is a digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

Our subscription includes access to institutional premium content.

British Newspaper Archive - Community Edition (all libraries, no remote access)

A partnership between the British Library and Brightsolid online publishing to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's vast collection over the next 10 years.

So far it includes the following archives for Kent newspapers:

  • Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times And Farmers' Gazette - 8 Oct 1836 to 30 Dec 1911
  • Dover Express - 7 Aug 1858 to 30 Dec 1949
  • East Kent Times - 1 Jan 1859 to 31 Dec 1864
  • Faversham Gazette and Whitstable, Sittingbourne, and Milton Journal - 21 Jul 1855 to 31 Oct 1857
  • Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald - 3 Jan 1891 to 28 Dec 1935
  • Gravesend Reporter, North Kent and South Essex Advertiser- 02 Feb 1856 to 28 Dec 1872
  • Kent and Sussex Courier - 6 Jun 1873 to 29 Dec 1939
  • Kentish Chronicle - 9 Jul 1859 to 28 Dec 1867
  • Kentish Gazette - 28 May 1768 to 25 Dec 1883
  • Kentish Independent - 7 Jan 1843 to 31 Dec 1870
  • Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - 3 Jan 1794 to 21 Nov 1838
  • Maidstone Journal & Kentish Advertiser - 5 Jan 1830 to 25 Dec 1902
  • Maidstone Telegraph - 1 Jan 1859 to 5 Aug 1871
  • Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - 18 Feb 1881 to 29 Dec 1950
  • South Eastern Gazette - 9 Jan 1827 to 30 Dec 1865
  • Thanet Advertiser- 26 Nov 1859 to 29 Dec 1950
  • West Kent Guardian - 13 Dec 1834 to 2 Aug 1856
  • Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - 5 Jan 1867 to 31 Dec 1950

See the full list of titles.

Free access is restricted to library computers and you will need to register for an individual account. We have a limited number of concurrent licences across the county; to enable a maximum of people to benefit, the product will log you out following 10 minutes of inactivity.

Credo Reference

Gives access to 1000 top reference books from some of the world's biggest publishers including Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, Debrett's People of Today.

Visit the Credo Reference website.

Dictionary of National Biography

Tells the stories of more than 50,000 people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond. It also includes more than 10,000 portrait illustrations, and the complete text of the 33-volumes of the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography.

Visit the Dictionary of National Biography website.

Find my Past - Community Edition (all libraries, no remote access)

View around 750 million records including birth, marriage and death records, the complete UK census collection (including the official 1911 census), millions of parish records dating back as far as 1538, a vast military records collection spanning 1656-1994, migration records etc. This now includes the 1939 register.

Our subscription excludes memorial scrolls and the Living Relatives database. Our license states that usage is for research into a user's own family history only, and not for any commercial or other purpose whatsoever and that accessing records on behalf of 3rd parties is not permitted.

Gale News Vault

Use the link to the News Vault to search the following resources individually or all in one go.

British Library newspapers

A comprehensive range of national, regional and local newspapers published in 19th century Britain, which reflects the social, political and cultural events of the times. Users can search across a large range of titles, perform full-text searches and view specific article types.

Illustrated London News

The world's first fully illustrated weekly newspaper, it allowed readers to not only read about British and world events but to actually see them. From war and disasters to politics and the arts, it provided a vivid view of the people, places and events that, until then, most of its readers could only imagine.

Times Digital Archives

Search through the digital edition of The Times (London) 1785 - 2007 using keyword or date searches to retrieve full facsimile images of either a specific article or a complete page. The entire newspaper is captured, with all notices, obituaries, advertisements and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate searching.

Visit the Gale News Vault website.

The John Johnson Collection

Access thousands of items selected from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library, offering unique insights into the changing nature of everyday life in Britain in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Categories include Nineteenth-Century Entertainment, the Booktrade, Popular Prints, Crimes, Murders and Executions, and Advertising.

Visit the John Johnson Collection website.

Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland

Search over 45,000 entries including current surnames with more than 100 bearers and those that had more than 20 bearers in the 1881 census. The entries give an explanation of the name’s origins, variations in spelling, and information about geographical distribution.

Access this book on the Oxford Reference website.

UK Press Online

Access the only digitised copies of the South Eastern Gazette 1852 - 1912.

Visit the UK Press Online website.

Who's Who with Who was Who Online

Who's Who is the essential directory of the noteworthy and influential in the UK and worldwide. Who Was Who includes more than 100,000 entries from the archives of Who's Who dating back to 1898.

Visit the Who's Who website.

More specialised biographical resources can also be found in the History and Social Sciences section.

Other useful websites

Kent-specific

CityArk

"CityArk is the online catalogue of the Medway Council Archives Service which is based at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, in Strood. We preserve and make available for research the archives of the Medway area of Kent and also the parish records of north-west Kent.

Visit the CityArk website.

Historic Environment Record

The Historic Environment Record provides free access to 1000s of local history resources including images, transcribed wills and documents and town trails. The Kent section includes transcribed wills, a history of the papermaking industry, a history of people and work in the Lower Medway Valley is being prepared. You can also access ordinance survey maps from between 1860 - 1930. Using the Map Search- Heritage Maps facility, you can also access historic ordnance survey maps of Kent as well as aerial photographs of Kent from 1946, 1990 and 2008.

Search the Historic Environment Record.

Hasted's 'History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent'

Search the volumes of the second edition (text and maps) of this major work on Kent history published between 1797 and 1801.

Visit the British History Online website.

Here's History Kent

This site is run by Kent Archaeological Society and includes information on towns and villages across Kent including articles, maps and photographs. There are also articles on subjects relating to the history of the County.

Visit the Here's History Kent website.

Kent Archaeological Society

Information includes images, transcriptions of tithe apportionments and wills, inscriptions from graves, indexes to and some articles from Archaeologica Cantiana and the Victoria County History of Kent, tithe awards, index of wills and the Wotton Surveys 1557-1560.

Visit the Kent Archaeological Society website.

Kent birth, marriage and death certificates

Allows users to search the registration indexes for births (1992 - 2002), marriages (1837 - 2002) and deaths (1992 - 2002).

Visit the Kent birth, marriage and death certificates website.

Kent Family History Society

Provides a keyword search for family names and some further information in the `Members Interest' section.

Visit the Kent Family History Society website.

Kent History Forum

A popular discussion forum for people interested in all aspects of Kent history. Posts and questions on the forum relate to a wide range of topics place and the forum also provides a place to swap information and find out about history-based activities and events in the county.

Visit the Kent History Forum.

North West Kent Family History Society

The society can carry out research on your behalf – their website also contains articles on Kentish families, some searchable indexes and information on surnames being researched.

Visit the North West Kent Family History Society website.

Screen Archives South East

Provides an enhanced online catalogue of more than 2000 selected films from the Screen Archive South East collection. A separate catalogue allows access to films from archives across the UK.

Visit the Screen Archives South East website.

National

1911 census

Search the index and see transcribed details of original census entries for free. Viewing the original full records requires the purchase of credits.

Visit the 1911 census website.

A2A (Access to Archives)

This database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.

Visit the A2A website.

BBC People's War

An archive of World War 2 memories submitted to and compiled by the BBC.

Visit the BBC People's War website.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The "Debt of Honour Register" database lists the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the 2 world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated. You can also search the register for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War.

Visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Family Search

FamilySearch.org is a non-profit service sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.The site provides access to "the largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world".

Visit the Family Search website.

FreeBMD

Access to partial indexes for 1837 to 1915 civil records of births, marriages and deaths.

Visit the FreeBMD website.

Genealogy in the UK and Ireland (Genuki)

Search tool listing a wide range of British sources.

Visit the Genealogy in the UK and Ireland website.

Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS)

"The Guild brings together those with an interest in one-name studies and other forms of surname study".

Visit the Guild of One-Name Studies website.

London Gazette

The modern London Gazette is a broad range of official, regulatory and legal information notices. The website also offers a huge archive of historically important information published since the London Gazette was first published in 1665 when King Charles II was on the throne.

Visit the Gazette (formerly London Gazette) website.

National Archives

Search the catalogue and access research guides.

Visit the National Archives website.

Old Bailey Online

A fully searchable version of the Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913, "the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court".

Visit the Old Bailey Online website.