Wales Archives and Libraries

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Many repositories contain information useful for Welsh genealogy. Archives collect and preserve original documents of organizations, such as churches or governments. Libraries generally collect published sources such as books, maps, and microfilm.

Online sources exist that may be used before visiting an archive or library. The Family History Library, family history centres and affiliate libraries may have copies of the records you need online, on microfilm or microfiche.

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 learn about hours, services, and fees.

National Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

National Library of Wales[edit | edit source]

National Library of Wales:
SY23 3BU

National Library of Wales.jpg

The National Library of Wales. This library houses church, nonconformist, court, probate, census, tax, land records, newspapers, maps, photographs, pictures and many private archive and manuscript collections. You must have a reader’s ticket to use the collections. However, the ticket may be obtained as you enter the library or by applying online. You can write to this library at:

Website: National Library

The National Archives[edit | edit source]

The National Archives, England.jpg
National Archives
Ruskin Avenue, Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Website: National Archives

The 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:

For a detailed list of the records housed in the National Archives, see:

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. (Family History Library book 942 A5p no. 19;)

Newspaper Archives[edit | edit source]

Most newspapers have archival records that can be accessed. Unfortunately Wales no longer has a National Newspaper. However there are many local and regional newspapers, as well as on line newspapers. The following websites provide lists of Local and Regional Newspapers that can be a rich source of archival information:

List of Newspapers in Wales

Welsh Newspapers on line

Office for National Statistics[edit | edit source]

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. See Wales Civil Registration for more details.

The British Library[edit | edit source]

British Library at St. Pancras
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
Website: British Library

The British Library collects all materials published in England and Wales. The electoral register collection is extensive. It also has a manuscript department. You need a reader’s ticket to use materials in this facility. You can contact this library at:

The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts[edit | edit source]

This organization houses the Manorial Documents Register (see Wales Court Records) 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, 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 FamilySearch Catalog under "Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts." Also check the Locality Search under:


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. (Family History Library book 942 H25gs vol. 3;)

You can contact this commission at:

Historical Manuscripts Commission
The National Archives
Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU

Website: Historical Manuscripts Commission

There are links from the commission’s home page to both the Manorial Documents Register and the National Register of Archives.

National Library of Wales

County Record Offices[edit | edit source]

Main article: Record Offices in Wales

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. (Family History Library British 942.9 A3i;)
  • Mortimer, Ian, ed. Record Repositories in Great Britain. 10th ed. Kew, Surrey: PRO Publications, 1997. (Family History Library British 942 J54r 1997)

Public and Academic Libraries[edit | edit source]

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
Singleton Park
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[edit | edit source]

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. (Family History Library book 942 E4hd.)
  • Pinhorn, Malcolm. Historical, Archaeological and Kindred Societies in the United Kingdom : A List. Isle of Wight: Pinhorns, 1986. (Family History Library book 942 C4h 1986;) An update to this book was published in 1995.

Special Archives[edit | edit source]

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. (Family History Library book 942 J54f 1995.)

Specialist Archives[edit | edit source]

Inventories, Registers, Catalogs, and Schedules[edit | edit source]

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 FamilySearch Catalog under:


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 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–; Family History Library 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 FamilySearch Catalog for:


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.[1]

For more information on archives and libraries look in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Research Article: Wales (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 2000), 9-12.