Family History


Discovering your ancestors is only a step away when you explore the wide range of resources available to you.

From ‘how to research your family history’ guide books to archival records, the ARK holds an extensive range of collections to enable you to trace your family history, backed up by our helpful ARK Team who are available to assist you in your research. All of our branch libraries have smaller collections of books explaining how to trace your ancestors and, of course, free access to the online subscription service, Ancestry (Library Edition).

The archive collections are all listed in our catalogue. Thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund, we are currently retro-converting our hard-copy catalogue into an electronic format using Calm (archive collections management system) which is now online ARK archive catalogue (incomplete at present, but updated on a daily basis).  You can visit the ARK search room in person to consult the full catalogue, search a limited number of ARK entries in the National Archives’ Discovery database TNA Discovery or contact the ARK Team for more information.  

Researching family history documents
Searching records in the ARK

In addition to our extensive archive collections, photographs and maps, you can access a range of historic resources:                                                

  • NEWSPAPERS on microfilm
  • Parish registers on microfilm
  • Cemetery burial records on microfilm
  • Non-conformist parish registers on microfilm
  • Electoral registers
  • Civil registration indices for births, marriages and deaths on microfilm/microfiche covering both England & Wales and Ireland
  • Census returns on microfilm/microfiche
  • Hearth Tax returns, Lancashire 1662-1663, 1664, 1673 

If you wish to view any resources on microfilm or microfiche, we recommend that you book in advance to make sure that there is a reader-printer machine available for you to use.  For more information on the resources available, to find out about the help we can offer or to book a reader-printer for family history research, contact ARK Team at Kirkby Library on 0151 443 4291.

The Family History Help Desk should be your first port of call if you are new to family history research, or are trying to find your way through the maze of information and resources. Run by a knowledgeable and helpful member of the ARK Team, the Family History Help Desk is open once-a-month in each of Knowsley Borough’s branch libraries. Sessions are run on a drop-in basis where we will do our best to put you on the right track. Contact your branch library or the ARK Team for details or find the 2019 session dates here: Family History Help-Desk dates 2019