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Tracing your family history

Photo of page from Compton censusIt can be difficult to start looking for your family history. Use the steps below to help you begin your search.

Talk to your family

Get information from relatives and look at any certificates, photographs and documents that they own.

Note down dates and events that are of interest.

Use online sources

  • The Staffordshire Collection on Findmypast.  Access is free in archives and libraries in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. A list of what is online is given below.  For further information see our digitisation project page.

  • Visit our Youtube channel for short videos to help you find specific  Staffordshire resources on Findmypast.
  • Ancestry Library Edition is the other leading genealogy resource on the internet and is packed full of records, as well as hints and tips to help you trace your family history, whether you are from Staffordshire or beyond.
  • National School Admission Registers Project.  Staffordshire school admission registers to 1914, held by the Archive Service, are available on Findmypast
  • Staffordshire Names Indexes holds a wealth of indexes including:

    • Calendars of Prisoners at Staffordshire Quarter Sessions, 1777-1880

    • Staffordshire Police Force Registers, 1842-1920

    • Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry wills, 1610-1760
    • Staffordshire Apprentices, 1600-1900

    • Workhouse Admissions and Discharges, 1836-1900

    • Manor of Newcastle copyhold tenants, 1700-1832

Visit a record office

After gathering information from family and online, plan a visit to a record office.

Always contact the record office before you visit.  We are also happy to answer any queries by email. 

Offices hold different records, so please check that the ones you want are available at the office before visiting:

We also sell publications which may help.

Use other services

Copying services - to obtain digital images or paper copies of records.  Fees are charged for these services.

Research services - to request a member of staff to carry out research on your behalf.  Fees are charged for this service.

Tracing your birth family

If you are trying to trace your birth family, you should seek expert advice and guidance from a properly accredited agency at an early stage in your search.

The Adoption Search Reunion website offers advice to adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive parents in England and Wales. The website provides information about:

  • legal rights of adopted people
  • getting counselling
  • a database to help find records of adoption
  • intermediary services, to help in contacting your birth family
  • approaching reunion.

The General Register Office provides services about adoption, including:

  • maintaining the Adopted Children Register
  • providing access to birth records
  • maintaining the Adoption Contact Register.

See the DirectGov website for further information about adoption records.

Local advice

Find out how to access your birth records on the Together4Children website.

Contact the Adoption Team for free and confidential advice. If you live in Staffordshire call 01889 256400.

If you live in Stoke on Trent contact:


Adoption Team,
Heron Cross House,
Grove Road,
Stoke on Trent,

Telephone: 01782 234555

Email: duty adoption

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