Specialist Library Services

Family History

The Family History Collection

The Family History Collection is mainly housed in Lord Louis Library in Newport and is available during normal library opening hours.   A great deal of family history resources can now be found online including access to the index of Births, Deaths and Marriages. 

The library service has a subscription to the family history website Find My Past, which allows library users to access the site and its subscription-only resources when using one of the library's computers. Please note that this access is not available to library customers on their own home computers.

The library service also offers one hour sessions how to get started with family history at Ryde Library.  They can be contacted by telephone on (01983) 823825.  Similar support is also available at Lord Louis Library to assist customers using 'Find My Past'. This support needs to be arranged with the staff at Lord Louis Library (01983) 823823.

As well as the online facilities a lot of information is housed in the collection at Lord Louis Library

General Register Office Index

The General Register Office (GRO and also known as the St Catherine’s Index) for Births Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales is available on microfiche in Lord Louis Library. The GRO Index consists of the quarterly indexes to civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths from 1837 up until almost the present day. The indexes provide the details needed to apply for Birth, Marriage or Death certificates at registry offices in England and Wales. The separate indexes for births, marriages and deaths are arranged by quarter year - March, June, September and December - according to the date of registration. Each quarter is arranged alphabetically by surname. From 1984 onwards the indexes are no longer arranged in quarters but run in one continuous annual sequence organised alphabetically by surname. Microfiche readers can be booked in advance either by a personal call to Lord Louis Library or a telephone call.  It may be advisable to book to use a microfiche reader as the centre can be very busy at times. Please ring (01983) 823823

Electronic Records

Lord Louis Library holds a selection of CD ROMs to help with family history research. These include: Soldiers that died in the Great War, Army Roll of Honour World War II, The Vital Records Index (birth, christening and marriage records from selected parishes in the British Isles), National Burial Index of England and Wales.

Census Returns

The 1881 Census is available on CD-ROM in the Lord Louis Library and all the returns, from 1841 to 1911 are available on the Internet. Local Census returns are available on microfilm at the County Record Office in Newport. Advance booking at the Record Office is advisable. Please ring (01983) 823820

Local Family Records

Local records such as baptism and burial registers are kept at the County Record Office, along with all other local archives, maps and an illustrations collection. The local Isle of Wight Registrar’s records, from 1837 onwards, are available on the Isle of Wight Family History Society’s website. Electoral Registers and Poll Books Local registers from the 1920s up to the present are available at the County Record Office. The most recent ones are only available subject to the staff’s discretion, owing to a change in electoral law. Before 1872 poll books recorded votes cast at parliamentary elections and some of these are also available at the County Record Office.

Street and Trade Directories

Directories covering the Isle of Wight, some including Hampshire, are held at the County Record Office 

Cemetery Records

Records are held at the County Record Office. Name indexes have been compiled for some towns. See the Isle of Wight Family History website for details.


The County Record Office holds a selection of some of the local papers that were produced in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some are available on microfilm.


Family Tree Jan 1995 – May 2003

Isle of Wight Family History Society Magazine  

General Standard reference works

including Dictionary of National Biography, Who Was Who, Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers are available in the Reference Library.    The library service subscribes to the online version of the Dictionary of National Biography. You may be asked for your library card number when using the online version.

Internet Links

Isle of Wight County Record Office  

Isle of Wight Family History Society

Births, Marriages and Deaths (England and Wales) 

Access to Archives  (Part of the National Archives)

Findmypast.com - please be aware that this is available free from any one of the island's 11 libraries.  Access to this from your home computer will require a personal subscription to the service.