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Local and family history services

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Discover your local and family history in the Local and Family History library, located on the 2nd floor in the Central Library.

Resources available

  • Collections include around 180,000 items - books, journals, directories, maps, photographs, prints, playbills and microfilms
  • Focus on Leeds with significant publications of Yorkshire with the emphasis on West Yorkshire.
  • Online resources including Ancestry in all our libraries and Origins available in the Central library

Subject areas

  • Local History - anything to do with Leeds and Yorkshire – history, geography, religion, education and natural history.
  • Family History – a fast-growing area of popularity, for which we have a wide variety of resources.

New! Volunteering opportunities

Volunteering opportunities are now available to research WW1 war memorials and research Leeds in WW1 using our collections. See related page 'Volunteering in libraries' for full details.

NEW!  Our Lunchtime talks for 2014 are now available in the documents section.  The next talk in the series is :

9 May 2014: ‘The History of Leeds Central Library’
Louise Birch, Leeds Library & Information Service –
Venue: Meeting Room, 3rd Floor 

Learning sessions

We offer a wide range of free local and family history learning sessions in the Central Library these include:

  • Family History for Beginners
  • Maps and Trade Directories
  • Tracing your Family History online
  • Local History online

All these sessions are FREE but booking is essential. You will also need to be able to use a computer for the online sessions.

Research services 
If you are unable to visit the library, staff will answer quick enquiries received by e-mail, letter or telephone free of charge. For more detailed research requests a charge is made.

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Contact us to be added to the mailing list and receive regular updates on upcoming events and activities.
Further information on our services can be viewed in  'Documents'

Opening hours
Monday           09.00 - 20.00
Tuesday          09.00 - 20.00
Wednesday     09.00 - 20.00
Thursday         09.00 - 17.00
Friday             09.00 - 17.00
Saturday         10.00 - 17.00
Sunday           13.00 - 17.00

Tel: 0113 2478290, local&familyhistory@leeds.gov.uk

Local and Family History Library

2nd Floor, Central Library

Calverley Street

Leeds LS1 3AB

Frequently asked questions

How do I find out when someone was born/ married/ died?

Search the General Registrar Office Index to Births, Marriages and Deaths for the person by name. This index can be accessed online via Ancestry.com in any Leeds Library or on microfilm in the Local and Family History Library. It begins in July 1837 and continues to present day. Please remember that it is only an index and that the relevant certificate will need to be purchased to find out more information.

I’m looking for an obituary for my ancestor. Can you help?

We have old newspapers so you can look through these around the date of death to see if a death notice or obituary was placed. If you do not know the date of death then you will need to check the GRO index to find the death entry and then purchase the death certificate to get an exact date of death.

How can I find out where my ancestors lived?

Look for family members on the census by name (1841-1901). This will give an address and you can then use trade directories and maps to locate where this street is. We may even be able to find a photograph of it on our Leodis website (www.leodis.net).


How can I find out where my ancestor was buried?

First you will need to find a record of their death and hopefully purchase a death certificate. This will tell you the exact date of death and where they died. You can then check our national and local burial indexes on CD-ROM to see if the burial can be located. We hold copies of the municipal burial records but there are no name indexes to these so you may need to search each cemetery in turn. You can also look in the local newspapers around the date of death to see if a death notice was placed detailing funeral arrangements. Alternatively you can look up the place of death on a map to see where the nearest churchyards and cemeteries were. Lawnswood Cemetery can also search their burial indexes for a fee.

Can you do my family tree for me?

Unfortunately we cannot do your family tree for you but can point you in the right direction to get started. We can carry out a limited amount of research on your behalf for a fee but we can also put you in touch with professional researchers who may be able to assist further.