Local and family history

All Herefordshire libraries have resources about both their own area and the whole county. The major local studies collection is held on the first floor mezzanine of Hereford library.

Research facilities

You are welcome to visit the library to do personal research and to access our extensive selection of local studies books and materials.

We are able to carry out small enquiries but we do not have the capacity to undertake research on behalf of customers. The Herefordshire Archives and Records Centre has a research and copying service which may be able to assist with your enquiry.


Most libraries have a selection of local books for loan. Larger libraries will also have local reference sections. Hereford Library has the largest range of books, but lending titles on the catalogue may be requested from any Herefordshire library or online. 

Subjects covered within the local collection include history and archaeology, geology and natural history, cider, Hereford cattle, the cathedral and churches, and the lives of local people. 

Hereford Library has full sets of the Transactions of the Woolhope Club for loan or use in the library. Among the special collections within the local studies collection the largest is the Pilley Collection, which includes many books of local interest not otherwise available.


Herefordshire Libraries substantial collection of bound newspapers and microfilm archive are held at Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre

Local newspapers for Leominster, Ledbury and Kington are held on microfilm at the local libraries in those towns.

To view local newspapers online, including newspapers from the First World War, please visit the Herefordshire History website. We are continually adding to this online archive.


Hereford Library has maps of the county dating back to the 16th century. Detailed plans of the city illustrate change and expansion in Hereford over the last 400 years.

There are historical Ordnance Survey sheets from one inch to the mile up to 25 inches to the mile. The first one inch map was published in 1831. Larger scale sheets were not issued until the 1880s.

To view and purchase local maps online please visit the Herefordshire History website. We are  continually ‚Äč adding to this online archive.


We hold a large collection of historic photographs and other illustrations from Herefordshire. These include the collection of Alfred Watkins, a pioneer photographer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as the archives of the Old Straight Track Club, which Watkins founded.

As well as prints and engravings there are albums of drawings and water colours, mostly of churches and other local landmarks.

To view photographs and images from the Herefordshire libraries, museum and archives' collection online, please visit the Herefordshire History website.

Family history

The Ancestry online resource is available free of charge on public computers in all of our libraries, giving access to census returns, registration indexes and many other records.

Hereford Library also has a range of additional resources to support family history research:

  • Census returns on microfilm covering Herefordshire from 1841-1901
  • Historical electoral registers and poll books
  • County and city directories for Herefordshire in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • Transcriptions of monumental inscriptions
  • International Genealogical Index for Herefordshire and neighbouring counties
  • Complete file of the Journal of the Herefordshire Family History Society