Information on family history resources in the Reference Library, Bristol Archives, and Ancestry.

Online family history resources

The AncestryInstitution website gives access to:

  • index to civil registrations of birth, marriage and death
  • the census returns for England and Wales 1841 to 1911
  • an increasing number of family history datasets from all over the world

You can use Ancestry on any library computer and in the Bristol Archives searchroom.  

If you can’t find what you want, ask staff for help. 

Find my past

Find my past is a searchable online archive of over 10 billion records covering:

  • Birth, marriage, death and parish records
  • Churches and religion
  • Census, land and surveys
  • Directories & social history
  • Education and work
  • Institutions and organisations
  • Military, armed forces & conflict
  • Travel and migration
  • 1939 Register

Find my past is available free on all public computers in the Library.

Main sources in our Reference Library

Index of births, marriages and deaths

The index, also called civil registration:

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

The IGI is put together by the Mormon Church from original parish registers and other early sources. The IGI:

  • covers baptisms and marriages of all denominations
  • is arranged by county, and then by surname for England
  • has separate sections for Wales, Scotland, and other parts of the world

Census returns

We have a number of surname and street indexes to the local census returns, compiled by volunteers. The census returns:

  • list household members present on census night
  • are available from 1841 to 1901
  • cover the area that was the county of Avon

1901 Census

We have a printed street index for:

  • the City of Bristol
  • Bedminster
  • Clifton
  • St. George
  • Stapleton

We also have a printed list of villages.

The surname index is available at 1901 Census Online.

The 1901 census is available on microfilm only.

To book a microfilm viewing, ring the Reference Library on 0117 903 7202.

Bristol street directories

Our Bristol street directories cover the period from 1790 to 1973.

Poll books and electoral registers

These include partial sets of:

  • poll books, or lists of people who voted in General Elections
  • ward lists
  • electoral registers

There’s a gap in the Electoral Registers from 1914 to 1951.

Main sources at Bristol Archives 

Our family history resources at Bristol Archives include:

  • baptism, marriage and burial registers for Anglican parishes, including bishop’s transcripts, and non-conformist churches
  • other parish records, including churchwarden accounts and records of Overseers of the Poor
  • registers of apprentices and burgesses
  • poll books and electoral registers
  • census records for Bristol and some surrounding areas, available on microfiche
  • records of Eastville workhouse
  • maritime records, including muster rolls, crew lists, log books and presentments
  • records of local schools, hospitals, police, courts and prisons
  • records of the Diocese of Bristol, including wills and other probate records
  • records of estates, families and individuals associated with Bristol and its history
  • maps, including tithe maps and Ordnance Survey maps

You can search the online catalogue for details of the Bristol Record Office collections. You can study the records in the public searchroom at B Bond Warehouse.

For more information, visit Bristol Archives website, phone 0117 922 4224 or email