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Local and family history

There are many resources available to assist users in research into family and local history.

Cambrian Index Online

The Cambrian Index database contains hundreds of thousands of entries from newspapers relating to people and events occurring in an area roughly represented by the former county of West Glamorgan, mainly covering the period 1804-1881 with some later entries.

Local Studies collection

The Swansea Local Studies Collection is located on the first floor of Swansea Central Library. The collection has comprehensive reference and lending collections of thousands of books on Swansea, Gower and the surrounding area and also a large reference collection of books on Wales in general. Our collection includes books, DVDs and CDs covering history, sport, industry, natural history, poetry, music, novels, folklore, art, architecture and much more.

Most of the books are freely available to browse. Using our catalogue will show the materials we have and remember that lending copies can be sent to your local library.

Library events

Free Local History Talks are held in Swansea Central Library every month in the Discovery Room on the first floor. Local history displays are also regularly hosted in the Local Studies area. We hold regular Family History surgeries in the Central Library and in other libraries. Our other libraries also host local family history groups and local history events and meetings.


For any further questions regarding our collections please contact Library Line information service. We offer a paid historical research service for more complicated enquiries.

Newspapers and microfilm

Swansea Central Library maintains large collections of local newspapers, in print and on microfilm. The earliest dates back to the first issue of The Cambrian in 1804, the Swansea paper which was the first to be published in Wales. The Cambrian Index Online provides a way of searching this paper. Other notable titles are The South Wales Daily / Evening Post from 1893 to date, The Western Mail from 1869 to date and Seren Gomer (1814-1815).

We have six bookable microfilm reader/printers available for customers in the Central Library. Some of these can make digital scans to a memory stick. Pre-booking of a microfilm reader/printer is recommended.
Swansea Central Library also maintains files of over 70,000 newspaper cuttings on a wide variety of local topics. Many of these cuttings are now available on reference CD-Roms which can be accessed within the Local Studies area.

The online resources section provides access for library members to various historic and current newspaper databases. You also may wish to consult the Welsh Newspapers OnlineOpens new window which has digitised versions of many of the old newspapers in our collections.

PDF Document Local and Welsh newspapers (PDF, 140KB)Opens new window

Maps and plans

These are available for public consolation in the map cabinets in the Local Studies section of Swansea Central Library. They cover the period c. 1835 (tithe map and apportionment copies) to date. Included are the current and previous editions of 1:1250 and 1:2500 Ordnance Survey maps and the 25" series (c.1878 and subsequent editions). Our map collections cover the boundaries of the City and County of Swansea.

Family history, census returns and birth marriage and death records

Besides a wide range of family history books for lending and reference Swansea Library offers free access for all our members to two of the premier family history and genealogy sites, AncestryOpens new window and Find my pastOpens new window, within our libraries. Census returns and indexes to UK birth, marriage and death records are included in these websites, plus many other useful record collections. 

Trade directories

Local trade and commercial directories can be useful in tracing family members and for local history research and we have a wide selection for Swansea and South Wales. 

PDF Document A guide to electoral registers and trade directories in Swansea Central Library (PDF, 216KB)Opens new window

Electoral registers

The Local Studies Library has an incomplete run of registers from 1836 until 1939, and a fuller set after the Second World War up to 2002. Our Registers cover the Swansea West, Swansea East and Gower areas.

The full current register and more comprehensive collection of old registers can be viewed at the West Glamorgan Archive Service, at the Civic Centre, Swansea.

PDF Document A guide to electoral registers and trade directories in Swansea Central Library (PDF, 216KB)Opens new window

Swansea Central Library has a run of Swansea telephone directories from 1904 to date and holds classified directories (Yellow Pages) from 1940 onwards for the local area. Please see our catalogue for a listing. 

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