People can now enjoy delving into their family history through a popular library service in the comfort of their own homes, thanks to Durham County Council.

The local authority like many others around the country offers access to Ancestry (Library Edition) free of charge for people coming into its libraries and using their computers.

But with the council having closed its libraries to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, it has now made Ancestry available for people to enjoy free of charge on their computers at home.

Ancestry (Library edition) offers access to historical documents and photographs plus local history, oral histories, indexes and other resources.

Users can search:

  • Census records for England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands from 1841 to 1901
  • Military, immigration/emigration, court and probate records
  • England and Wales Civil Registration indexes for births, deaths and marriages
  • UK and Ireland parish and probate records from the 1500s to the 1800s and even earlier
  • England and Wales National Probate Calendar from 1861 to 1941
  • Return of Owners of Land 1873 for England and Wales
  • Registers of coroner’s inquests for New South Wales, Australia from 1796 to 1947
  • UK naval medals from 1793 to 1972
  • Military campaign medal award rolls from 1914 to 1949
  • Second World War prisoners of the Japanese

    The site is available through the council’s website at People must be library members to use it but if they are not already they can become a member free of charge by visiting the library online webpage.Cllr Joy Allen, the council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Ancestry is a fascinating resource that our library service offers free of charge, allowing people to find out more about their family history and to access a wealth of historical documents and photos.“We hope residents will connect with the library service and enjoy the many benefits free membership brings during the current restrictions and beyond.”The library service also offers members access to a wide range of eMagazines such as Family Tree Magazine and Your Family History, which will give readers ideas for scrapbooking, preserving photos and lots more. These can be also be accessed at
    “In these difficult times when we are all being asked to stay indoors, it is great that our library service is able to offer both Ancestry and the storytelling sessions online – providing residents of all ages with educational and entertaining activities they can enjoy at home, and all free of charge.
    The council has already moved the library service’s popular storytelling sessions for children online.
    To use Ancestry, people just need to type in their ancestor’s name and any other details they know such as when and where they were born, or when they got married.