Research Methods

In order to get the most out of research it is essential to be computer literate and have access to the internet.  This, to some people may seem daunting, but there is always help available, even possibly free classes at your local community centre.   Even if you do not own a computer, most local libraries nowadays have several to use, often free of charge. It is possible to research ‘the old way’ but this is more costly and time-consuming.


Resources available via the internet:

Ancestry website: ( .
There are three subscriptions available, plus Pay as You Go.
Essentials: Build family tree and connect with other members, Censuses, births, marriages and deaths
Premium: the above, plus go back to 1500s with parish registers, military, immigration and Irish records,
Worldwide: the above plus entire library and all new releases.  USA, Canada and other


Ancestry also includes WW2 Prisoner of War records, and also UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946.

Other similar websites can be used such as Find my Past (
and Free Births, Marriages and Deaths:


Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website ( has a Debt of Honour Register which records when and where he service personnel died as a result of WW1 and WW2, plus information regarding the cemetery in which he/she  is buried or named on a memorial.

The Times Newspaper Digital Archive 1785-2010 can be accessed via the internet (via your local library ticket), also Gazettes Online.



Resources available locally include:

St Barbe Museum, New Street, Lymington
Their website is
The King Research Room provides access to the St Barbe Museum Collection and catalogue.


Lymington library for the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times on microfiche, going back to 1928.  Also on Microfiche is the Lymington and South Hants Chronicle going back to late Victorian times.


Christopher Tower Library, New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, Hants

The Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library houses the most comprehensive collection of books, maps, reports and ephemera on the New Forest available to the public in a single location.  The collection contains microfiche and microfilm copies of all the census returns for the whole of South-west Hampshire and also microfiche covering all the parish registers.  There are good runs of trade directories as well as numerous biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and diaries.

Please contact the Centre Office ( – Tel: 02380283444 or – Tel: 02380286153) before your visit, or ask at the Centre reception desk.


Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Sussex Street, Winchester, SO23 8TH.

Tel: 01962 846154.

Before visiting, one is advised to check the online catalogue or list of popular records to see whether the Record Office holds what one is looking for.

Visitors need a reader’s ticket. These are free and can be obtained at the start of the visit by providing proof of name, address and signature. Alternatively, one can request a temporary, one-day ticket for access to all the popular records available in the public search room.


The Red House Museum, Quay Road, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 1BU.

There is a Local Studies Resource Room on the first floor of the Red House Museum. Visitors can access the resources here during our opening hours.  No need to book. However if you wish to view original source material or archives you will need to contact us in advance to make an appointment.

The museum collection includes archive maps, plans, books, letters and printed ephemera, dating from the early nineteenth century.

The photographic collection includes postcards, albums and slides from the Victorian period to the present day. We have made copies of many of these photographs which are available in Local Studies Resource Room and are available on a drop in basis. We have also made some of these images available on public access computer in the museum.

These folders are categorized by location, and include the Christchurch area, the outlying villages and parts of Bournemouth. There are also copies of trade directories from nineteenth and twentieth century to assist family genealogists. The resource room also contains information about local themes such as transport, the Priory and notable people. Their website is, then link to the Red House Museum here, or via Hampshire Cultural Trust –



Resources available further afield:

The National Archives at Kew, London –
(Formerly the Public Records Office)

As the official public archive of the United Kingdom government, The National Archives hold records covering more than 1,000 years of history. Government records which have been selected for permanent preservation are sent to The National Archives

A Reader’s Ticket is needed to access original documents but not necessary to access documents online.

To apply for or renew a reader’s ticket one needs to register online and view a document handling video. It can be done:

  • within six weeks of the  intended visit, using a computer or handheld device. The benefit of registering in advance  is that one can order documents in advance, if an email address is provided when registering
  • on the day of your visit, using one of the computers in the reader registration area at Kew

Whether one registers in advance or on the day of the visit, your photograph is taken in the reader registration room for your reader’s ticket when you visit, and your ticket will be issued.

One needs to carefully review the instructions on the National Archive Website regarding proof of ID documents.



Other archive centres:

Imperial War Museum Library, London (  – advisable to reserve a seat in advance.

British Library (  – Reader’s Ticket available on production of 2 items of identity; one has to prove that the research could not be carried out elsewhere.

Kelly’s Directories  was a trade directory in the United Kingdom that listed all businesses and tradespeople in a particular city or town, as well as a general directory of postal addresses of local gentry, landowners, charities, and other facilities. It was a Victorian version of today’s Yellow Pages.   Many reference libraries still keep their copies of these directories, which are now an important source for historical research. This link takes the reader to historic maps. These are of use to a researcher.

Military Museums are listed here

Relevant books for local history research are highlighted on the following page.



Links to local history societies:

Boldre Parish Historical Society –

Milford on Sea Historical Record Society – – village clubs and societies

Milton Heritage Society –

Beaulieu History Society –

Christchurch History Society –

The Fordingbridge Historical Society –

Romsey Local History Society –