Isle of Wight Council

Local History

Family History Collection

The Family History Collection is mainly housed in the Reference Library in Lord Louis Library in Newport and is available during normal library opening hours. For further details of the Reference Library, its contact details and opening times Click Here.

A number of Family History reference sources are held in this collection.

General Register Office (GRO) index

The General Register Office Index (also known as the St Catherine’s Index) for Births Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales is available on microfiche in the Reference Library.

The GRO Index consists of the quarterly indexes to civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths from 1837 up until almost the present day. The indexes provide the details needed to apply for Birth, Marriage or Death certificates at registry offices in England and Wales.

The separate indexes for births, marriages and deaths are arranged by quarter year - March, June, September and December - according to the date of registration. Each quarter is arranged alphabetically by surname.

From 1984 onwards the indexes are no longer arranged in quarters but run in one continuous annual sequence organised alphabetically by surname.

Fiche readers can be booked in advance either by visiting the Reference Library in person or a telephone call. Booking is recommended as the Centre can be very busy at times. Please ring (01983) 823800.

Electronic records

The Reference Library hold a selection of CD ROMs to help with family history research. These include Soldiers that died in the Great War, Army Roll of Honour World War II and the Vital Records Index (birth, christening and marriage records from selected parishes in the British Isles). Access is available to the Times Digital Archive (The Times newspaper from 1785 to 1985) on the public access computers in the Reference Library.


  • Family Tree Jan 1995 – May 2003.
  • Isle of Wight Family History Society Magazine.


Standard reference works including:

  • Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Who Was Who.
  • Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers.