Local studies and family history

We have a number of different online resources where you can search your family history and discover your past.

Ancestry website

Discover your family history and build a family tree with the world's largest genealogy website. Search birth records, census data, obituaries and more. 

Available on all public access PCs in our libraries, free of charge, to all library members.

Find my Past

Using the computers at your local library you can get full access to England, Wales and Scotland's census records and easy-to-search birth, marriage and death records.

Find my Past has the UK's largest collection of parish records, historical British newspapers and much more. 

Unfortunately we are not able to offer this service to users at home.  You can download records in the library, and then access them at home from your account.

We are experiencing issues with access to Find my Past. If you have any problems with logging on, please report them to a member of library staff. 

The 1921 Census

The 1921 census is free for library users to access in libraries on the Find my Past website. 

How to use Find my Past

Keep up to date with the latest news from Find My Past through the accompanying blog on the Find My Past website.

Be guided through some vital points in research in the getting started section of the Find my Past website

Cumbria Image Bank 

Cumbria Image Bank is a collection of digital images created using original material from Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness Libraries and Cumbria Archives.

You can view 25,000 images dating back to the mid eighteenth century covering the whole of Cumbria.

Search the Cumbria Image Bank website

Oral history

The Kendal Oral History Group has an extensive archive comprising interviews with over two hundred local people. Copies of their recordings are deposited within Kendal Library along with printed transcripts.

Read more on the Kendal Oral History Group website

Whitehaven Record Office and Local Studies Library has a small but growing collection of oral history tapes, partly the result of the Millennium Spirit of Cumbria initiative.

Ambleside Oral History Group, formed in 1976, have a collection of over 300 taped and transcribed interviews, they are housed in Ambleside Library.

Read more on the Ambleside Oral History Archive website


The Library Service has material on microform, where the originals are not available locally are too fragile for use or are not published in printed form.

Major categories of material in microform include the enumerators returns for the whole of the area then known as Cumbria for:

  • the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 census
  • the International Genealogical Index
  • the Saint Catherine's House Index
  • the Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales 1837 and onwards

Westmorland and Furness libraries provides access to digital media from a range of providers. Use of these services are subject to the provider's terms and conditions. Cumberland Libraries accepts no responsibility for materials accessed from the provider. Parents or guardians are responsible for guiding young people in their use of these services whether these are accessed on the internet or apps.