Wales Archives and Libraries
In Wales, there are several types of repositories containing information of genealogical value. Archives collect and preserve original documents of organizations, such as churches or governments. Libraries generally collect published sources such as books, maps, and microfilm.
All record repositories in Wales have heavy public use. You should contact the repository you plan to visit several weeks in advance to obtain a reader’s ticket, to reserve a seat or a microfilm reader, and to find out hours, services, and fees.
Remember that the Family History Library and family history centers may have copies of the records you need on microfilm or microfiche.
- 1 National Archives and Libraries
- 2 County Record Offices
- 3 Public and Academic Libraries
- 4 Family and Local History Society Libraries
- 5 Special Archives
- 6 Sources
National Archives and Libraries
National Library of Wales. This library houses church, court, probate, census, tax, and land records; copies of newspapers and maps; and many private collections. You must have a reader’s ticket to use the collection. However, the ticket may be obtained as you enter the library. You can write to this library at:
- National Library of Wales
Department of Manuscripts and Records
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3BU
A helpful guide to the National Library of Wales, Department of Manuscripts and Records is:
- Guide to the Department of Manuscripts and Records: The National Library of Wales. Aberystwyth, Wales: National Library of Wales, 1996. (FHL book 942.9 A3g;)
The National Library of Wales has an excellent Web site at:
National ArchivesThe National Archives collects records of the central government, such as parliamentary papers and law courts from 1086 to the present. It is located in England but has many Welsh records. These records can provide you with much information but are best used after you have gathered information elsewhere. You must have a reader’s ticket to use this collection, but you may apply for one when you arrive. You can contact this office at:
- National Archives
Ruskin Avenue, Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
For a detailed list of the records housed in the National Archives, see:
- Kew Lists: Public Record Office. Norwich, England: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1986–88. (FHL book 942 A3gp vol. 1;) The Current Guide is on FHL fiche 6092282 pt.1, 42 fiche; 6092283 pt.2, 6 fiche 6092284 index, 10 fiche;)
For another helpful guide to the National Archives, see:
- Bevan, Amanda, and Andrea Duncan. Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office. 4th. ed. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1990. (FHL book 942 A5p no. 19;)
The National Archives has a Web site at:
Information is also accessible through the GENUKI website at:
Office for National Statistics
The Office for National Statistics (formerly known as the General Register Office) is responsible for government birth, marriage, and death certificates from 1 July 1837 to the present for all of Wales. Copies of the office’s records are housed at the Family Records Centre in London. See the "Civil Registration" section of this outline for the address.
The Family Records Centre also has copies of census records from 1841 to1891, nonconformist chapel records, probate records, Regimental Registers, and Chaplains’ Returns.
The British Library
The British Library collects all materials published in England and Wales. It also has a manuscript department. You need a reader’s ticket to use materials in this facility. Because the library’s collection is so complex, usually only experienced researchers use it. You can contact this library at:
- British Library at St. Pancras
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts
This organization houses the Manorial Documents Register (see the "Court Records" section of this outline) and the National Register of Archives (NRA). The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts has been working to inventory records that are in archives and private collections. The commission’s finding aid, the National Register of Archives (NRA) at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/, includes over 191,000 lists of manuscript collections and close to 5,000 finding aids and annual reports from various repositories. These lists are indexed. Searches can be made in these indexes via the Internet. The Family History Library has some of the published indexes. These indexes are divided into three sections by person, business, and organization. Look in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalog under "Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts." Also check the Locality Search under:
GREAT BRITAIN - HISTORY - SOURCES
WALES - HISTORY - SOURCES - INDEXES
The NRA may be used to learn about estate records that are in private hands and at various record offices. Many of the records described by the commission have changed hands since being examined. For information about the current location of records surveyed by the commission see:
- The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.
Guide To The Location Of Collections Described in the Reports and Calendars Series 1870–1980. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1982. (FHL book 942 H25gs vol. 3;)
You can contact this commission at:
- Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts
Quality House, Quality Court
Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP
There are a links from the commission’s home page to both the Manorial Documents Register and the National Register of Archives.
County Record Offices
All Welsh counties have an archive that contains records about its particular area. Genealogical records in these offices include land records, church records, taxation records, probate records, miscellaneous indexes, and collections. Some county record offices have personal or place-name indexes to some of the records in their collection.
County record offices are open to the public. Some require a reader’s ticket. If you write for information, be as concise as possible. The offices are small and have limited staff, so you may have to wait a few weeks for a reply. If the staff does not have the time to search their records, ask for a list of record agents who can search the records for you.
Books listing addresses for the county records offices are:
- Istance, Jean and E. E. Cann, comp. Researching Family History in Wales. Birmingham: The Federation of Family History Societies (Publications) Ltd., 1996. (FHL British 942.9 A3i;)
- Mortimer, Ian, ed. Record Repositories in Great Britain. 10th ed. Kew, Surrey: PRO Publications, 1997. (FHL British 942 J54r 1997)
Public and Academic Libraries
Public libraries collect many published sources such as local histories, city directories, maps, newspapers, family histories, and parish registers. Some also have manuscript collections. Academic libraries house family papers, estate records, and other historical and genealogical material. You can contact the following academic libraries at:
- University College of North Wales Library
Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG
- University College of Swansea Library
Swansea, West Glamorgan SA2 8PP
- Merthyr Tydfil Central Library
High Street, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8AF
For addresses of public libraries and other university libraries, see the publication British Archives listed in "Special Archives".
Family and Local History Society Libraries
Family and local history societies collect and write histories of the people and places within their area of interest. Some of these societies have libraries.
Addresses of some sources are listed in the following books:
- Henderson, S.P.A,. and A.J.W. Henderson, ed.Directory of British Associations & Associations in Ireland. 13th ed. Beckenham, Kent, England: CBD Research Ltd., 1996. (FHL book 942 E4hd.)
- Pinhorn, Malcolm. Historical, Archaeological and Kindred Societies in the United Kingdom : A List. Isle of Wight: Pinhorns, 1986. (FHL book 942 C4h 1986;) An update to this book was published in 1995.
City, occupational, and ecclesiastical archives also hold family history information. Holdings and services vary widely. Addresses for libraries and archives can be found in:
- Foster, Janet, and Julia Sheppard, British Archives: A Guide to Archive Resources in the United Kingdom. 3rd ed. New York: Stockton Press, 1995. (FHL book 942 J54f 1995.)
Locating Web sites for Record Offices and Libraries
To locate a Web site for county record offices, public and academic libraries, family and local history society libraries, and special archives, go to the GENUKI website at:
From the above site:
- Click [County of your choice]
- Click Archives and Libraries
Inventories, Registers, Catalogs, and Schedules
Most archives have publications that describe their collections and how to use them. If possible, study these guides before you visit or use the records so you can use your time more effectively. Many published inventories, guides, catalogs, and directories for archives and libraries are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under:
GREAT BRITAIN-ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES-INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS-INDEXES
ENGLAND - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
WALES - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
WALES, [COUNTY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
WALES, [COUNTY], [CITY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
For a microfiche collection of calendars and finding aids for many British archives, libraries, and museums, see the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom and Ireland (NIDS) at http://www.proquest.com/products_umi/descriptions/National-Inventory-187.shtml. It provides a detailed listing of the boxes, folders, or sometimes individual documents contained in various collections.
To use NIDS start with the name and subject index available on microfiche and compact disc (London: Chadwick-Healey, 1986–; FHL fiche 6341118; compact disc 1313 no. 10.) To find the Family History Library call numbers, look in the Author/Title Search of the microfiche version of the Family History Library Catalog for:
NATIONAL INVENTORY OF DOCUMENTARY SOURCES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
Currently, the only Welsh repositories included in NIDS are the National Library of Wales, the Anglesey Record Office, the Clwyd Record Office, the Dyfed Archives Service, and the Gwynedd County Record Office. Other Welsh record offices, as well as record offices in other parts of the British Isles, will be added in the future.
Many repositories outside Wales have land and property records relating to Welsh places. When searching indexes to the National Inventory of Documentary Sources, try a search for the county in Wales where your ancestor lived to see how many English record offices have records that may help you. If the indexes have no related entries then go to the individual repository schedules that have information about the general area where your ancestor lived.
For more information on archives and libraries look in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
GREAT BRITAIN - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
ENGLAND - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
WALES - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
WALES, [COUNTY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
WALES, [COUNTY], [CITY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
- National Library of Wales: http://www.llgc.org.uk/
- Anglesey Record Office: http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/cgi-bin/anw/desclist1_nofr?inst_id=27
- Clwyd Record Office: http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/cgi-bin/anw/fulldesc_nofr?inst_id=29&coll_id=2414&expand
- Dyfed Archives Service: http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/cgi-bin/anw/search2?coll_id=1522&inst_id=30&term
- Gwynedd County Record Office: http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/cgi-bin/anw/desclist1_nofr?inst_id=27
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Research Outline: Wales (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 2000), 9-12.