Tracing your family history
Renfrewshire has a wide collection of records and resources to help you research your family history as well as the tips on this page find out more about useful local sources for family historians
- talk to surviving family members and record all their recollections
- collect as many copies of birth, marriage and death certificates as possible, this will save you time and money later on
- use the information the certificates contain, starting with the most recent, to work backwards, generation by generation
- fill out a family tree chart, download our blank template to get started family tree chart (pdf-127 KB )
Civil registration ( the legal requirement to record births, marriages and deaths) began in Scotland in 1855 and the same system is still in use today. You can obtain copies of certificates from -
Birth, marriage and some death records, from before 1855, were recorded in the Old Parish Records (OPRs). These registers were administered by the Church of Scotland, which was the state church. The records are not complete, as not everyone was registered or could afford the fees charged.
Renfrewshire area records are available at:
- Heritage services (available in microfilm only)
- Scotlands People website (online)
- National Archives of Scotland may hold additional records from other denominations
Additional records can help turn a list of names and dates into the more interesting history of a family. Heritage services based in Paisley Central Library hold special collections which can be very useful , as well as Burial records and war memorials
Researching your family history can be great fun and can lead to many discoveries about your family and the way they lived. Your research may take a lot of time and money so it is important to keep it organised by:
- keeping accurate notes - it's easy to forget sources
- using loose-leaf binders or keeping images on a potable tablet or notebook, when working away from home, transfer your results to a computer later for back up
Heritage Services can provide copying services, subject to copyright, for some of the resources in our collection. However, not all the material in our collection is suitable for copying. Staff can advise you on our copying service. Copying charges are available on the Library Charges webpage.
We welcome enquiries in person, by letter, telephone, fax or e-mail. contact us If using email please include your street address.
We are happy to assist you in answering specific questions but it is not possible for us to undertake detailed or time consuming research, you may let us know in advance of a visit .
Starter account vouchers and top-up vouchers can be purchased from any Renfrewshire library The vouchers are priced -
- 60 credit start-up account voucher, £7 each
- 30 credit top-up voucher, £4.80 each
- Heritage services
- Family History Sources in Renfrewshire listing of additional local information sources
- Genealogical Search facility provided by Renfrewshire Registration Service
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