A guide to help you dig deeper into your family history and add flesh to the bones.
Where your ancestor lived: See the guides to building history for the types of sources available for finding out where your ancestors lived.
Where your ancestor went to school: Admission registers for a large number (though not all schools) are available via the archive search room.
To see if admission registers are available for the school you or your ancestors went to search the online catalogue entering the place name and the word school in the Title field – the results will also include records held in other collections, such as plans of the school in the County Architect’s archive.
Admission registers are the main record referring to individual pupils, log books occasionally mention individuals by name (although usually teachers rather than pupils), but are wonderfully revealing about school life.
A full list of archive collections for Derbyshire schools can be found here.
See Find My Past for pre-1914 admission registers and log books (subscription required)
Where your ancestor worked: it is not possible to find employment information for most of our ancestors, but there are a range of sources available depending on the business, the industry and the circumstances of the individual. Look out for the forthcoming employment research guide to find out about records of apprenticeship, war service, coal miners (including accidents and trade unions), child employment and individual employees of several local firms. A very small number of records survive relating to employees and servants on landed estates, particularly for the Harpur-Crewe family of Calke Abbey (ref: D2375).
Ancestors in the workhouse or receiving poor relief: Until 1835 parish Overseers of the Poor collected and distributed monetary and other relief to the in need. The parish archives include records of people settling in new parishes, being removed to old ones, and examinations in bastardy cases. Under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, Poor Law Unions built workhouses to house, feed and set to work (if able) the poor in their district, rather than given money. Admission and discharge registers only survive for the workhouses at Belper and Chesterfield, but records for the other unions do include some names of individuals in receipt of poor relief.
Criminal Ancestors: Quarterly Calendars of Prisoners provide details of inmates in the county gaol and in houses of correction within the county.
Other resources that might help
- Trade directories: list prominent landowners, officials and some (not all) residents by place, plus a commercial section arranged by trade.
- Newspapers: from birth, marriage and death notices to reports of coroner and other court proceedings, newspapers provide more detail than can often be found in formal records.
- Maps and Plans: can provide information to help find out about the house your ancestor lived in, or property they owned.
- Family and estate archives: the estates of landed families were major business enterprises, employing large numbers of people and renting property to families. Few family archive collections hold personal details of employees (though tradesmen might be mentioned in expenditure accounts), but many do include at least some records relating to tenants in rent accounts.
- Taxation records: over the centuries many different taxes have been collected, some of which have local records. Most of these are arranged by hundred and then alphabetically by parish, and are found in the Quarter Sessions archive collection (ref: Q). For information about non-local records relating to taxation see The National Archive research guide.