Research Guides

We have a vast collection of original documents relating to Derbyshire, as well as an extensive local studies collection.   But sometimes this can mean it’s a bit overwhelming to know which are the best records to use and what is the best way to find them.

We have a produced a series of guides to help you navigate these incredible collections, with links to our online catalogue as well as other sites such as The National Archives Discovery catalogue.  Each guide includes suggestions for further reading and guidance, almost all of which is held in our local studies collection.

The guide to Online Resources includes details of a wide range of different websites and online tools from lots of different organisations, both public and commercial.

Looking for People

Get started with your family history using records of civil registration, census, church registers (including many online and how to read the Latin entries before 1733) and bishops transcripts, burial and cemetery registers, newspapers and wills

Take the next steps and discover how to find out about your ancestors education and employment, plus information on records relating to apprenticeship, bastardy, crime and punishment, poor relief and workhouses, hospitals, war service and more.

Some individuals and communities and their experiences have been, and continue to be, the subject of oppression and marginalisation. We have much work to do correct our catalogues, particularly to tackle offensive and oppressive language, but we have been making progress with this and have produced two Hidden Histories research guides while the work continues. Learn more about finding the records held in Derbyshire’s archive collections for enslaved people in other parts of the world and members and groups of the LGBTQ+ community in our own county.

Some families and individuals have left their own personal archive collections, from large collections for the Gells of Hopton Hall (near Wirksworth) and Harpur Crewes of Calke Abbey to the hundreds of smaller collections for Derbyshire families from all walks of life.  There are also hundreds of biographies and other published materials relating to Derbyshire’s past residents in our local studies collection.

Looking for Places

Whether you want to learn more about your town, village or community, get started on the history of your house, or discover more with next steps in building history, we have lots of resources from historic maps and building plans to electoral registers and title deeds, and thousands of old illustrations and photographs which can be seen online via Picture the Past.

Looking for organisations

Some of the following links are to a list of archive collections rather than a full research guide.

Explore the archives left by local

Looking for Subjects

Follow the links below for guidance on specific topics:

Future guides: Archaeology, Civil War, Environmental History, Farming History, Handwriting, Health and Medicine, the Peak District, Population Statistics, Witchcraft, Women’s Suffrage and World War Two.