Reference libraries and family history

Reference libraries

The main reference facility is located in Birkenhead Central Library, with smaller reference collections in:

Resources available across our reference libraries:

  • business directories
  • government publications
  • yearbooks
  • maps
  • encyclopaedias
  • dictionaries
  • national and local newspapers
  • periodicals for quick facts or background information

Resources available specifically at Birkenhead Reference Library:

  • local and family history resources
  • 1904 Wirral Photographic Survey
  • census returns from 1841 up to 1911, available on microfilm, fiche, CD or online
  • Electoral Registers from 1862 to date
  • newspapers - an archive of local papers from 1880 to date
  • maps
  • trade directories - a range of dates held from 1750s to 1970s
  • cemetery records
  • rolls of honour and monumental inscriptions
  • council proceedings from 1880
  • Public Acts of Parliament (UK) from 1890 in hard copy
  • parish records
  • Birkenhead History Society archive


Obituaries from 1880 to 1896 and 2010 to 2013 are available to view at Birkenhead Reference Library. Make a note of the year you require from the list below, there is a £1.05 charge to use the reader and a £1.15 charge for any prints. 

Photo index

A large collection of photographs (many are in digital format) are available at Birkenhead Reference Library to view and purchase. New additions to our collection are welcome, we are able to scan and return the originals.

Digital Photography printing

Per image - A4 standard laser paper - £1

Wirral Remembers 1914 to 2014

Find out about Wirral Remembers materials held in Birkenhead Library

Birkenhead History Society newsletter

Issues available from 1974 to present.

Camden series (Royal Historical Society)

  • third series (1900 to 1963). 
  • fourth series (1969 to 1993). 
  • fifth series (1993 to present).

Hard copies of the indices are available at Birkenhead Reference Library.

The Chetham Society

  • old series (1843 to 1883)
  • new series (1883 to 1947)
  • third series (1949 to present)

Indices are available at Birkenhead Reference Library.

Magazines and journals

  • the Cheshire Ancestor - journal of the Family History Society of Cheshire (1987 to present)
  • Family Tree Magazine. Issues available from 1997 to June 2010.
  • Your Family Tree. Issues available from 2011 onwards
  • Genealogists’ Magazine - journal of the Society of Genealogists. Back issues kept for a year, local articles kept permanently
  • Lancashire Parish Register Society. Hard copy index available for Wirral articles. View the full index online
  • The Local Historian - journal of the British Association for Local History. Back issues held for a year, local articles kept permanently
  • Local History News - magazine of the British Association for Local History. Back issues kept for a year, local articles kept permanently
  • Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. View the index online
  • Recusant History - journal of the Catholic Record Society
  • Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

Online reference resources

Wirral library members have free access to our online resources. You can access these resources at every Wirral library and some from at home. 

Just login to your account and click on the 'online reference' tab.

Log in to my account

Online resources available include:


  • Who’s Who - Autobiographical listings of 33,000 influential people from around the globe who have an impact on British life, including senior politicians, judges, civil servants, and notable figures from the arts, academia, and other areas.


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies - An illustrated collection of more than 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women from around the world who shaped all aspects of Britain's past.
  • Oxford Bibliographies offers exclusive, authoritative research guides. Combining the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia, this cutting-edge resource guides researchers to the best available scholarship across a wide variety of subjects.
  • Who’s Who: the essential directory of the noteworthy and influential in every area of public life, published worldwide, and written by the entrants themselves.


  • Encyclopedia Britannica Online Library Edition - Search for information in encyclopedias, magazines, videos, and websites.

Family History

Findmypast makes original historical documents available to search online, so that people can explore a collection of over two billion records to find their ancestors and trace their family tree.


  • - Use a computer in any Wirral library for free access. With over 4 billion records and 11 million historic newspaper pages to explore, Findmypast is the best place to discover your family’s story.

General reference resources

  • Oxford Reference Online - Oxford Reference Online brings together language and subject reference works from one of the world's biggest reference publishers into a single cross-searchable resource.

News resources

  • British Newspaper Archive: Hundreds of newspapers, including titles such as Liverpool Echo, Liverpool Mercury, Chester Chronicle, Cheshire Observer and many more.
  • Access UK and Ireland Newspapers: Full images of: The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Liverpool Echo, plus full text content of all UK newspapers including Wirral Globe.

Small Business

Which? guides

  • Which? Access thousands of product reviews from within Wirral Libraries - ask staff for login details.

Local and Family History

Birkenhead Reference Library holds a wealth of resources on local and family history.

A range of resources are also available at the Wirral Archives.

Contact us

Contact us at

Research request

If you are not in the area you can submit a research request. The first half hour of research is free and there is a charge of £12 per half hour thereafter for this service.

Submit a research request