Starting your research
Before you start
Often the best way to start doing your family history is to read
a book (browse our
library catalogue) or look at a general
website (for example the BBC
Get Started page) to find out what is involved.
Alternatively, you may well have a local family history society
near you which you can join or from which you may get specialist
A lot of research can now be done online, but you will at some
point need to visit an archive or local studies centre to confirm
what other people have discovered. Part of the attraction of doing
your family history is the contact with historical documents and
the thrill of finding new information.
Researching at the Kent History and Library Centre
or other Kent library
If you are planning to to visit the Kent History and Library Centre or the
local history collection of a
library in Kent, first check the
archive catalogues to get a good idea of the material
available. You can also find out more about the
online resources we make available on our Kent History Online page.
We recommend you contact
the relevant location in advance to check that the information
you require will be available when you visit.
To access original archive materials in the Kent History
and Library Centre, you will need to get your Kent
library card `archive-enabled’. To do so you need to bring
identification showing your name, address and signature (for
example a driving license, or a utility bill and a bank
card). You can also use a County Archives Research Network
(CARN) ticket if you have one.
Before your visit please read our
Guide for new users and
General handling guidelines.
We provide general information about relevant materials and
their location for free. This is a popular service and we would
encourage you to email us rather than phone.
In addition we offer the following services and expertise for a
- In-depth family history, local history and house history
research (beyond looking at basic sources for a specific piece of
- Transcriptions of documents.
- Summaries of Latin documents - for example key details
from wills or title deeds.
- Research relating to specific types of records - for
example medical (Oakwood Hospital/St Augustine's)
or workhouse records.
- Research in the full range of material available in the archive
and local history collections, for all periods back to the 15th
- Book time with the researcher who will help with your
own research in the searchroom at Kent History and Library
- Bring in your own documents for help in reading and
We charge £32 per hour (with a minimum charge of £16). Mark
any correspondence for attention of the researcher.
Please note: Research may take several weeks to
be completed, and in some cases it may not be possible to
carry out research due to the pressure on the service.
Guides and finding aids
Note: We are currently updating our guides to reflect
the move of the archive and local history collections to the new
Kent History and Library Centre.