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Family history

The council's local studies, archives and museums service holds a wide range of resources to help you discover your family history.

UK family history introduction

Most of our collection relates to the area now covered by the London Borough of Hillingdon but also includes material connected to neighbouring boroughs and the historical county of Middlesex.

If you are researching a family who lived outside the borough you can still make use of our extensive choice of family history books and free access to genealogy website Ancestry.

Hillingdon Family History Society volunteers are available every first Saturday of the month at Uxbridge Library. 

Getting started Albert, Harold and Horace Leno of Providence Congregational Church, Uxbridge 1914

Before beginning your family history research start by writing down your own life story, including as many dates, places and names of family members as you can. This can act as a 'memory jog' and help determine what you know, what you have forgotten and what you have yet to find out.

Next if possible seek out the oldest members of your family and ask them about their life stories. Again try to gather as many names, dates, locations and occupations of as many family members as you can, but remember - don't trust everything you hear!

After this your next step is to start looking at original documents. Many of you will have a stash of old family records in your own homes, or have access to some through a family member. Family records like photographs, birth certificates, medals, wills and postcards can provide us with all sorts of insights into their owners' lives, and when considered together can be used to build up a detailed family tree. Once you have arrived at this stage, Hillingdon Local Studies are here to help take your research to the next level.

Our resources Hon Mr and Mrs Cecil Duncombe

Books and periodicals

If you are new to family history you may wish to look at some of the many introductory guides to the subject which have been published. These and other family history titles can be found in the Uxbridge Library Local Studies section on level 6, and most branch libraries will also have their own genealogy section. Some books may be borrowed but others are reference only.

We also hold a number of family and local history periodicals which are available to browse in our Local Studies room. These include: 

  • Hillingdon Family History Society Journal, 1989 to present
  • The Home Counties Magazine, 1899 to 1912
  • LAMAS Transactions, 1860 to present
  • Middlesex and Herts Notes and Queries, c1895 to 1898
  • Records of Bucks, 1854 to Present (gaps)
  • West Middlesex Family History Society Journal, 1978 to present

Search our library catalogue to explore our full range of family history books and periodicals.

Online subscriptions

The following websites are available to use free of charge in all Hillingdon libraries:

  • Ancestry Library Edition - Global edition
    Contains all the major records you will need to start researching your family history, including birth, marriage and death indexes from 1837, census returns from 1841 to 1911 and a large  collection of parish registers going back as early as 1538. Other useful records include directories, passenger lists, criminal registers and World War 1 service records.
  • The Telegraph Historical Archive
    In addition our subscription to enables you to search digitised newspapers from 1855 to 2000 and find out whether any of your ancestors ever made the headlines.

  • Our  page contains further information on how to access these and other useful web resources.

Indexes and transcriptions Ella, Emily and Edith Barnes of Hillingdon

Printed indexes to baptisms, marriages and burials in several Hillingdon parishes can be accessed via our Search Room, in addition to transcriptions of early wills, rate books and monumental inscriptions. 


Street directories of local areas, particularly Uxbridge and Ruislip, are available for 1840 to 1977 (with gaps) in the Local Studies search room. These can be used to check the householder or business at a specific address. Telephone directories are available from 1954, earlier ones can be found on Ancestry Library Edition.

Electoral Registers

We have electoral registers for these periods: 1838-9, 1890-1897, 1899-1914 (bound volumes), 1920-1993 (on microfilm), 1994-to date (bound volumes). Unfortunately there are substantial gaps in the Uxbridge registers and we have none between 1931 and 1965.

You will need an address in order to find an individual, however some of the early electoral registers for Uxbridge have been digitised by Ancestry Library Edition making them considerably easier to search.


Local newspapers dating back to 1854 are available on microfilm at Uxbridge Library. Some are only available as hard copies from which no photocopying is allowed, and 3 days notice is required for their production.


Local studies has approximately 15,000 photographs of local places. You may be able to find a photo of the area you are interested in, but not necessarily of the exact street or house.

Many of the local studies photographs are digitised and available in the Search our catalogue. To access these, search in the Museum collection for photos by keyword, place or date.

Maps Presentation to Rev and Mrs Prout of St Martins Church West Drayton 1932

Hillingdon local studies has Ordnance Survey maps dating from 1866 onwards, as well as enclosure and estate maps from earlier periods. These can help you identify where your ancestor lived or trace the history of your house.


Our archives contain thousands of original documents relating to the local area which can help with your family history research, including:

  • rate books
  • valuation lists
  • the parish chest of St John's, Hillingdon

Please note that historic parish registers for Middlesex are held by the London Metropolitan Archives but can be viewed online at Ancestry. Transcripts made by the local family history societies are available for most parishes in our search room.

The archives are kept in our store at the Civic Centre. Therefore we require three working days' notice if you would like to view a document.

You can search our archive collections via our Local Studies Catalogue.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 12 Dec 2018 at 08:36