Local Studies and Family History

About Local Studies

Established in 1884 this is the largest collection of local and family history material in the North East, we also collect current local material.  Everyone is welcome to visit us and look at any of the collection, but, as many items are rare or irreplaceable most of the collection is not on public display.  To see anything just make your selection from our catalogues or ask a member of staff.

The Newcastle Collection

The reference library was officially opened in 1884, and from that time the library service has built up extensive collections of rare books and heritage material.  Some of the items date back to the fifteenth Century.

These Special Collections are now housed on Level 6 of the City Library, in secure and environmentally controlled conditions.  We have an exhibition area on level 6, which allows visitors to see a selection of the rare books and heritage material that the City holds.

For details of the collections please visit the Newcastle Collection website. Or see our guide to the Newcastle Collection.

Historical Maps

Some of our historic maps of Newcastle have been digitised and can be found on our Newcastle Collection website.

It's possible to view items in our Special Collections, special permission is required, if permission is granted we require at least 5 full working weekday's notice to produce this material for consultation. Requests should be made to the Heritage Specialist.  When viewing items from the Special Collections you will need to produce proof of identity, which includes your name, address and signature.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • In person - please make your request through a staff member on level 6
  • By email - please apply to: information@newcastle.gov.uk
  • By telephone - 0191 277 4100

Permission is not automatically guaranteed.  If there are facsimile, digital or later editions of a particular item this will be offered as an alternative.  In certain circumstances the material may be considered too fragile for handling.

Our Research Service

If you are unable to visit us, we can conduct some limited research on your behalf.  If you require more extensive family history or general local research, a list of local researchers is available.

The research service costs £30 per hour - up to a maximum of two hours.  Payment for research is required in advance.

You can make your advance payment by cheque or by credit/debit card.  To apply by post download and print an order form and include this with your payment.  To apply by phone and pay via credit/debit card phone 0191 277 4100. To apply online, please complete this order form. (link to online form, requested)

Every effort will be made to find the information for you, the charge will still be implemented if we are not able to do this.  This is because our staff will still have spent the required time searching for the information.

Family History Resources

If you are interested in tracing your family history, we have lots of resources that will help you. 

We also have useful guides about Newcastle and researching your family history.

You may also find useful information at the Archive services for Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

General Register Office Indexes

City Library holds the most recent General Register Office Indexes, an essential tool for family history research.  The indexes cover all civilly registered life events from 1837, such as births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships.  We also have the adoption index and overseas life events.  The indexes are in fiche format and can be viewed on level 6 of the City Library, find out what you can view in person.  For further information about the indexes and how to apply for certificates please visit the GRO.  Certificates for births, deaths or marriages which happened in Newcastle upon Tyne can be ordered online from the Registrars Office at the Civic Centre.

Online Resources

We've access to some fantastic online resources, that can help you to research your family history and discover more about your heritage.  All you need is a library card to access them!

Two sites which contain thousands of family records, like Census, Military Records, Births, Marriages and Deaths are available at all of Newcastle's Libraries on the public computers.

  • Ancestry Library Edition
  • Find My Past

Newspapers are a great resource for research, you can use the Nineteenth Century Regional Newspapers, available on our 24 hour library  and the British Newspaper Archive is available in all of our libraries on the public computers.

Our Photographic Collection

The Local Studies photographic collection consists of over 80,000 photographs, prints and postcards representing the social, recreational and working lives of the region, from the birth of photography in the 1850's to the present day.  They can be viewed on level 6 of the City Library.  Digital copying of the images is not permitted, however a photocopy may be taken.

View archive images online

Over 7,000 historic photographs of Newcastle and the surrounding areas from our collection, are online on Flickr .  The images include nearly one thousand images from our Torday Collection.  Laszlo Torday was a photographer who arrived in Tynemouth in January 1940 from Hungary and took most of his photographs of Tyneside during the 1960's and 1970's.  They reflect his interest in the streets and people of Newcastle especially of central Newcastle and the suburbs of Heaton and Jesmond.

Ordering a Photograph

You can request a copy of a photograph in our collection, they can be provided in either digital or hard copy formats.  Details of the cost can be found here

Ordering and pre-payment can be made at the City Library on level 6, payment can be made by cash, cheque or card, alternatively contact us with any queries:

Heritage Team

Charles Avison Building

City Library

33 New Bridge St West

Newcastle upon Tyne


Telephone: 0191 277 4100

Email: information@newcastle.gov.uk

To request the use of a photograph for publication please contact the Heritage Team via email information@newcastle.gov.uk, details of the cost can be found here .

West Newcastle Picture History Collection

The collection at West End Library contains over 19,000 photographs and documents relating to the history and heritage of West Newcastle from the 19th Century to the present day.  The collection covers Arthurs Hill, Benwell, Elswick, Fenham & Scotswood, but also includes items relating to Denton Burn, Kenton, Lemington, Newburn, North Walbottle, Throckley & Westerhope.

Copies of images from the collection are available to purchase as photocopies or as prints.

You can now find out more about the WNPHC and see some of their collection, by accessing their Website.

For further information or specific requests contact:

Mr Millican
West Newcastle Picture History Collection
West End Library
Condercum Road
Newcastle upon Tyne

Telephone: 0191 273 6586
Email: wnphc@yahoo.co.uk

Please note that the collection is open to visitors on Monday's 10am - 4pm and at other times by prior arrangement with WNPHC.

SCL Heritage Group Website

A portal to Heritage Collections in the region.

Heritage Open Days in Tyne and Wear

Heritage Open Days are a unique opportunity to step into the past, free of charge and find out more about the 2000 years of history that has made the North East the vibrant place that it is today. Heritage Open Days are held annually in September. Visit the Heritage Open Days in Tyne and Wear website.

Visitor Information

To find out about visiting our great City, please visit the Newcastle Gateshead site, where you can find information about staying in the area and what's on.



Is this page useful?
Is this page useful?