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Sources for Research in English Genealogy :
Historical Collections on Microfilm


The Foreign Copying Program at the Library of Congress was begun in 1905 to transcribe manuscripts relating to American history in the British Library (formerly the British Museum), the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the Public Record Office (PRO). Many of these documents are of interest to genealogists. For example, PRO records of individuals and families emigrating; original correspondence concerning America and the West Indies (Colonial Office 5); documents pertaining to American Loyalists (Audit Office 12 and 13); West New Jersey Society records, 1675-1921 (land records Treasury Solicitor 12); and army pensioners encouraged to emigrate to New South Wales in Australia and to New Zealand from 1846 to 1841 (War Office 1). The guide, Public Record Office Genealogy, a Selection of Leaflets, and the compiler's Genealogical Research in England's Public Record Office: a Guide for North Americans may be consulted in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division Reading Room.

While there is no complete list of the British manuscripts, those copied before 1944 are described by Grace Gardner Griffin in A Guide to Manuscripts Relating to American History in British Depositories (CD1048.U5 A35 1946). More recent acquisitions are listed in the 1976 imprint, Manuscripts on Microfilm: A Checklist of the Holdings in the Manuscript Division (Z6621 .U572 1975). Researchers at the Library of Congress may consult these indexes in the Manuscript Reading Room. Most of the microfilmed British manuscripts relating to American history are available for use through interlibrary loan, and arrangements for this should be made through a local library.

The British Manuscripts Project (microfilm 041) includes manuscripts from the Cambridge University Library, the Public Record Office (including the Colonial Office), Lincoln Cathedral, Oxford University (Bodleian Library), the National Library of Wales, and several country house libraries (Longleat, Holkham Hall, Penshurst, Knole, Woburn Abbey, and Syon House). The contents of this collection is found in Lester K. Born's British Manuscripts Project, A Checklist of the Microfilms Prepared in England and Wales for the American Council of Learned Societies, 1941-1945 (Z6620.G7 U5). Researchers at the Library of Congress may examine both of these in the Microform Reading Room.

The National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom, (microfiche 85/235), lists published and unpublished finding aids for archive and manuscript collections in the United Kingdom. It does not include copies of the documents themselves. What it covers are county record offices (Berkshire, Gloucester, Bristol, Essex); university and public libraries; and the Bodleian, as well as other special and private repositories (Guildhall Library, National Library of Wales). Readers in the Library of Congress may consult guide no. 101 in the Microform Reading Room.

Records of the States of the United States of America, "Early State Records" (microfilm 1550), include local, county, and city records, as well as newspapers for British colonial America. Legislative, statutory law, constitutional, administrative, executive, and court records are indexed. A Guide to the Microfilm Collection of Early State Records (Z663.96 .G8) is on reference in the Microform Reading Room.

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  January 8, 2014
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