We collect and make available, information about Warwickshire and its people, buildings and countryside.

Local studies collections

Collections relating to specific areas are available at individual libraries. The information contained in leaflets, pamphlets and photographs may be found by searching indexes in local studies collections.

The Warwickshire Collection

The largest range of material relating to the county as a whole, the Warwickshire Collection is held at Nuneaton Library. The collection aims to gather all titles published on Warwickshire and its communities, places and people.

It holds approximately 25,000 items in total, including books; photographs and illustrations; directories; and journals. Paper mapping for the county is also available from the 1950s to approximately 2010.

Book titles within the collection can be found in the library catalogue with a card catalogue for other material.

To view items from the Warwickshire Collection please contact us, in advance, to make an appointment to visit.

Libraries with collections

Please contact us to book a reader printer if you want to view material held on microfilm or microfiche.

Books and Periodicals

We aim to collect all published material relating to the county, including books, eBooks, journals and magazines. These include archaeological transactions, church magazines and local society newsletters.

Search our collection

Census returns, parish registers and newspapers

A national census has been taken every ten years from 1801, however, it was only from 1841 that details about individuals and households were recorded. Census returns for Warwickshire parishes, towns and villages are available on microfilm or microfiche from 1841 onwards. Local libraries hold these for their areas.

Parish registers are produced by the Church of England to record baptisms, marriages and burials. The earliest registers date from 1538 and entries in them are listed in date order. We hold parish registers on microfilm, in libraries with local studies collections. In some cases, these have been transcribed and indexed.

We have an excellent selection of historical and current newspapers on microfilm. Entries on the catalogue are not complete so if the newspaper title or date you require is absent, please contact us and we will check our holdings.

Directories

Trade and commercial directories are a useful source of information, particularly for the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Helpful for both general research and family history, they list heads of household by both trade and surname. They are available in hard copy and microfiche.

Maps

The Warwickshire collection, located at Nuneaton Library, has the largest range of modern ordnance survey mapping at 1:1250, 1:2500 and 1:10,000 scales for the county.

All libraries with local studies collections have modern Ordnance Survey maps for the scales above, for their area. Some also hold other maps – for example geological, land use and Goad plans. They also have local historic maps on paper and the Ordnance Survey County Series for the whole of Warwickshire (1888 to pre-World War II) on microfilm.

Photographs

Collections of photographs, prints and postcards of specific areas are held at libraries with local studies collections. In some cases it may be possible to obtain copies, however, copyright restrictions and charges apply.

  • Our Warwickshire – thousands of photos, stories, memories and maps contributed by local people, museums and archives.

Family history

Research

We have guides and introductions to family history research – library catalogue.

We can help with family history but are unable to undertake in-depth research. When you contact us please provide as much information as you can: dates, names, places and sources already searched.

Family history resources free with your library card

  • Ancestry – search for your ancestors: 1.5 billion names, United Kingdom and Ireland. Free with your library card on library computers
  • Find my past – search for your ancestors and the 1939 register. Free with your library card on library computers
  • Who do you think you are? – eMagazine exploring the stories behind the popular BBC genealogy TV series, but also helps you uncover your own roots
  • Your family history – respected genealogy eMagazine that makes tracing family history accessible and rewarding
  • Census returns
  • Parish registers
  • Newspapers on microfilm
  • Press reader –  local eNewspapers:  Birmingham Post and Mail, Coventry Telegraph, Nuneaton Telegraph, Warwickshire Telegraph and Warwick Daily
  • Times digital archive – free with your library card. The Times newspaper from 1785 to 2009
  • County record office – census returns for the whole of the historic county, with a few exceptions. They also hold parish registers for the whole of Warwickshire, including from other churches and chapels.

See our eBooks and eMagazines page for details on how to set up your account with your library card.

Groups and surgeries

Family history groups and surgeries are a great opportunity to share knowledge, skills, resources and experiences.

Family history groups and help sessions in libraries

Library When
Atherstone Third Wednesday of the month, 2pm – 4pm
Coleshill Third Monday of the month, 10am – 12 noon
Kenilworth Mondays 10am – 12 noon
Leamington Third Thursday of the month, 11am – 12.30pm
Nuneaton Fourth Wednesday of the month, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Rugby Third Thursday of the month, 2pm – 4.30pm
Stratford-upon-Avon Tuesdays 10:00 – 12:00

Find a family history group

Special collections

George Eliot Collection

Nuneaton Library holds one of the prime collections on George Eliot in Britain. The collection was started in the early days of the town’s first public library around 1900. It includes over 2000 books including the novels, poetry, essays, biographies and literary criticism; photographs; pamphlets; facsimiles of approximately 190 letters of correspondence between the author, her family and friends; and material relating to the George Eliot Fellowship.

To view items from the George Eliot Collection please contact us, in advance, to make an appointment to visit.

Working Lives

A collection of memories of work and industry in Nuneaton and Bedworth as a twentieth-century oral history. Material relating to the project is held at Nuneaton Library.

  • Working Lives – view photographs and listen to oral histories. Includes a free downloadable teaching pack for key stage two.

Our school offer

We welcome visits from schools to view our local studies material by appointment.  Sessions are led by a class teacher supported by a member of the library staff. The material can be requested by a teacher to be made available during the session. Charges apply for school visits.

Contact us to talk about arranging a session and discuss requirements.

Donations

We gratefully receive items of local interest, including photographs, books and ephemera, if the items meet our collection requirements. If you have items you think may be of interest to us, please contact us or speak to a member of staff in your local library.