About the Archives

Ulster Historical Foundation researchers will assist you with your research each day in PRONI but during the week of this programme you will have the opportunity to visit and research in a number of other archives in Belfast.

There will be the option to visit other Belfast archives on Tuesday 25th October and Thursday 27th October. Foundation staff will be present in certain archives in order to assist you with your research but please note their presence at specific archives will depend on the total number of delegates present.

You may also wish to extend your stay in Belfast in order to spend more time researching in the archives yourself. Below you will find a list of archives in Belfast and Dublin, along with their opening hours and location.

Archives in Belfast

Public Record Office Northern Ireland (PRONI)

Address: 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast. BT3 9HQ

Link: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/public-record-office-northern-ireland-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.

Belfast Central Library / Newspaper Library

Address: Royal Ave, Belfast BT1 1EA

Link: https://www.librariesni.org.uk/libraries/greater-belfast/belfast-central-library/

The largest collection of local newspapers in Northern Ireland is held in the Newspaper library in Belfast Central Library. Ranging in date from the 18th century to the present day the newspaper collection includes almost complete runs of the Belfast newspaper titles, most notably the Belfast Newsletter from 1759, as well as a large range of provincial newspaper titles from every county in Northern Ireland and some from the Republic of Ireland.

Rare and unique holdings include the “Northern Star”, the paper of the United Irishmen, and the “Londonderry Journal” for the years 1796-1801.

Linen Hall Library

Address: 17 Donegall Square N, Belfast BT1 5GB

Link: https://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.

The Presbyterian Historical Society

Address: Assembly Buildings, Fisherwick Place, Belfast BT1 6DW

Link: https://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.

Museum of Orange Heritage Archive

Address: 368 Cregagh Rd, Castlereagh, Belfast BT6 9EY

Link: https://www.orangeheritage.co.uk/

The museum holds an extensive collection of historical documents relating both to the Glorious Revolution and the reign of King William III and Queen Mary II, and to the history of Orangeism.  Included amongst these is the book known as the Paymasters General’s book, which details the accounts of the Williamite forces in Ireland from June 1690 to March 1691.  Other artefacts of interest are a handwritten letter giving an account of the battle, and a letter from King William sending instructions to the Earl of Carnarfon.

Early Orange Order artefacts include the original Grand Lodge minute book, and private lodge minute books dating back to 1796.   There are also documents of wider historical significance, such as parliamentary reports and Home Rule period artefacts.

The library and archive can only be visited by request and an appointment should be made by contacting Museum of Orange Heritage on 028 9070 1122 if you are planning to visit on your own and not as part of our group visit.


Ulster Historical Foundation's Research Library

Located in Ulster Historical Foundation’s “Genealogy Hub”, the Foundation’s research library is one of the best specialised private libraries in Northern Ireland.

Our library comprises valuable resources to support genealogy and family history research and provide contextual and historical information into the lives of your ancestors. What sets this library apart from other collections is our diverse and extensive range of privately published family histories many of which are not widely available to the general public.


Archives in Dublin

Registry of Deeds

Address: Henrietta St, North City, Dublin, Ireland

Link: https://irishdeedsindex.net/

The Registry of Deeds is to be found in Henrietta Street, Dublin and is a repository of records of wills and land transactions in Ireland.

It is one of the most valuable sources of ancestral information for the eighteenth century particularly as many original wills were destroyed in the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922.

The information contained in this archive relates not only to the wealthier landlords but also can include details of the most humble of tenants. More than half a million registered deeds were deposited up to 1832.

National Archives of Ireland

Address: 8 Bishop St, Dublin, Ireland

Link: https://www.nationalarchives.ie/

The National Archives holds the records of the modern Irish State which document its historical evolution and the creation of its national identity. Their holdings relate to all parts of Ireland and provide essential primary source material for people seeking to understand the political, economic and social forces which have shaped the Irish Nation.

Please note that the 1901 and 1911 census for the whole of Ireland, the tithe applotment books (1820s & 1830s) for the Republic of Ireland and Will calendars (summaries) for the years 1858-1920, 1922-1982 (from 1918 for the Republic of Ireland only) are now available online on the free website nationalarchives.ie.

National Library of Ireland

Address: Kildare St, Dublin 2, Ireland

Link: https://www.nli.ie/

Roman Catholic parish registers are an essential source for anyone researching their 19th century Irish ancestors.  If your ancestor was Roman Catholic and born in Ireland prior to 1864, this may be where you should start your research.  Researchers can search digital images of every surviving page of parish registers from the earliest (about 1740) up to 1880 on the website of the National Library of Ireland.

Representative Church Body Library

Address: Braemor Park, Churchtown, Dublin, D14 YH51, Ireland

Link: https://www.ireland.anglican.org/about/rcb-library

The Representative Church Body Library is the Church of Ireland’s repository for its archives and manuscripts. Non–current records from parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, the General Synod and the Representative Church Body are regularly transferred to the Library.

The manuscript collection includes papers of prominent clergy and laity and records of Church of Ireland organisations and societies.