Belfast Central Library / Newspaper Library
The network of local libraries across Northern Ireland is managed by Libraries NI (www.librariesni.org.uk). Each library will generally have a local studies section with significant heritage collections at the larger libraries. Opened in 1888 Belfast Central Library in Royal Avenue is the principal library in Northern Ireland and houses some 1,000,000 volumes. An important section within Belfast Central Library is the Newspaper Library.
Linen Hall Library (www.linenhall.com)
The Linen Hall Library in Donegall Square North was founded in 1788 as the Belfast Reading Society and is the oldest library in Belfast. Its Genealogical Collection is unsurpassed in Northern Ireland for the sheer numbers of published family histories on its open shelves. In all the Library houses more than 250,000 volumes, 75,000 pamphlets, plus significant holdings of periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, microforms, photographs, films and recordings. Among its useful resources for genealogists is the card index to birth, marriage and death notices in the Belfast Newsletter covering the period from 1800 to 1864.
Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland (www.presbyterianhistoryireland.com)
The Presbyterian Historical Society was founded in 1907 to promote public awareness of the history of the various strands of Presbyterianism in Ireland. Once described as a ‘Treasure House of Ulster’s History’, the Library of the Presbyterian Historical Society contains some 12,000 books and pamphlets. The collection includes a large number of congregational histories. Manuscript materials include session minutes, baptisms and marriages from individual churches. The society also has a duplicate set of the microfilm copies of Presbyterian Church registers held by the PRONI covering the vast majority of congregations in Ireland.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni)
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Belfast is one of the best regional archives in the UK. It holds centuries of records relating to the province of Ulster and the families that have lived here. One of the main features of PRONI’s collections is the fact that they cover both public (i.e. official) and private records. These include thousands of documents relating to the management of the great landed estates, records of many important businesses, records relating to the governance of many of Northern Ireland’s towns. Using the PRONI eCatalogue, which can be done online prior to a visit to the archive, it is possible to identify the records of greatest interest.