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Heritage Research Area | Birmingham City Council

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Heritage Research Area

The Heritage Research Area remains closed until further notice. 


Materials and resources

The following is a listing of materials and resources you can find on open access in the Heritage Research Area:

  • Printed books on Birmingham’s history
  • Black History Collection including texts on Bangladesh, India and Pakistan
  • Access to online family and local history subscription websites e.g. Ancestry
  • Local newspapers from 18th century onwards on microfilm
  • Street and trade directories from 1767
  • Census returns 1841 to 1911
  • Electoral registers, 19th and 20th century
  • National index to wills England & Wales from 1858
  • Printed maps from 1553 e.g. 19th and 20th century ordnance survey maps
  • Military History resources
  • Biographical dictionaries
  • British Topography

Things you can do

There are numerous things to do in the Heritage Research Area:

  • Access books, catalogues and indexes along with those stored in the Wolfson Centre
    The Heritage Research Area is host to a series of catalogues and indexes including one for the Local Studies Collection, a designated repository of printed materials relating to the cultural and historic development of the city. The catalogue to the collection is divided into three parts:
    1. The pre-1940 book catalogue
    2. The 1941 to 1974 card catalogue
    3. The post 1974 digital catalogue which can be accessed online via www.birmingham.gov.uk/libraries. Please note this catalogue is currently subject to a review by staff - please consult with staff on level 4 should your search not be productive. 
    The Birmingham Collection located on the shelves dividing the Heritage Research Area and the Wolfson Centre is the open access version of the much larger Local Studies Collection located in our stores.
  • Explore your family and local history
    Computers in the Heritage Research Area are dedicated to family and local history research. Access is via a member of staff at the Heritage Research Area counter. We provide free access to the library’s version of Ancestry along with software for accessing microfilm versions of Birmingham newspapers.
  • Join the library to access its IT and printed lending resources
    Whilst in the Heritage Research Area you may wish to sign yourself up for a Birmingham library card – all that’s required is identification verifying your name and address. The CARN ticket issued for access to materials served in the searchroom is acceptable as ID. The issue of the library card has numerous benefits including access to the library’s internet service along with access to the library’s lending resources – please note all of the printed resources housed in Archives and Collections are for reference use only.
  • Book an appointment to view materials in the Wolfson Centre
  • Talk to staff about your archives related enquiries
  • Use surrogate copies of some archival resources
  • Obtain a CARN (County Archives Research Network) ticket ready for your appointment
  • Access the Birmingham Wills Collection, 1858 to 1941