Local studies and family history

A shelf of very old books in the archivesWe have extensive local and family history collections including:

  • Books, pamphlets, local newspapers
  • Maps
  • Census
  • Parish registers
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  • Civil Index (births marriages and deaths)
  • Free access to Ancestry Institution.

Viewing materials

  • Wigan Local Studies is based upstairs at the Museum of Wigan Life. Collections largely cover the Wigan side of the borough
  • Leigh Local Studies is based in Leigh town hall. Collections largely cover the Leigh side of the borough
  • Location and opening times

We are able to offer a free 15 minute research service. More in depth enquiries cost £15 per 30 mins.

Please contact us for more information.


A guide to genealogical sources (4th edition, 2013) these files provide details of the main types of genealogy sources available to those investigating their family history.

Civil index to Births, Marriages and Deaths (England and Wales) 1837 – 1950 is only available at Wigan Local Studies.

Ancestry Institution

Free online access is available at the Museum of Wigan Life (and all the borough’s libraries). Please book a computer ahead of your visit.

Parish registers

Group around a library desk discussing local historyChurch of England registers for most of the former Wigan parish and the current metropolitan borough. Catholic Church registers mainly for the period prior to 1901, although there are some later dates. Limited non-conformist registers.

Parish registers are available online or microform (please book a reader in advance of your visit if using microform).


Cover the current metropolitan borough area, also some for Lancashire, Liverpool and Manchester.

Various dates.

Early telephone directories.

Electoral records

  • Burgess Lists 1725 - 1804 (Wigan Borough only)
  • Poll Books 1820, 1841, 1845, 1852, 1854, 1857, 1866, 1868 (Wigan Borough only)
  • Electoral Registers 1874 - 1900, 1902 - 1906, 1908 - 1914, 1918 - 1939, 1945 - 1991, 1992 to present. Note: Coverage for the pre 1974 urban district councils, now incorporated into the Wigan Metropolitan Borough, is very limited
  • Leigh Municipal Borough pre 1974 - 1949, 1953, 1954, 1959 - 1965, 1967 - 1972, some earlier dates are available at Leigh Local Studies.

Rate books

Available at Wigan Local Studies.

Abram, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Aspull, Astley, Bedford, Pennington, Westleigh, Wigan.

Various dates covered.

Available on microfilm only – please book a reader in advance of your visit.

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

1992 edition for Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Yorkshire, Kent, Ireland and Wales.

Available on microform only – please book a reader in advance of your visit.

This source is also available online at Family Search (external link)

Boyd’s marriage index

Lancashire 1538 - 1837.

Available on microfiche only – please book a reader in advance of your visit.


  • Wigan Observer 1853 to present. Indexes 1853 - 1960, 1960 - 1989 (CDRom) and 1997 - 2006
  • Wigan Examiner November 1853 to June 1961
  • Leigh Chronicle 1852 - 1963 (Turnpike Centre only).

Local and biographical cuttings books with indexes.

Available on microform only – please book a reader in advance of your visit.

Cemetery records

  • Atherton Urban District Council 1857 - 1966
  • Hindley UDC 1880 - 1973
  • Ince UDC 1857 - 1958
  • Leigh Municipal Borough 1856 - 1980
  • Tyldesley UDC 1878 - 1953
  • Wigan County Borough - Lower Ince 1856 - 1976; Gidlow 1948 - 1972.

For online indexes see Wigan World (external link).

Available on microform only – please book a reader in advance of your visit

Printed books and pamphlets

Stock also available on the library catalogue.

  • Chetham Society
  • Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire
  • Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
  • Copies of private research e.g. Ian Winstanley, Mining deaths in Great Britain 1850 - 1914
  • A complete set of Lancashire Parish Record Society volumes
  • Catholic Record Society and Harleian Society also contain some registers for areas other than Lancashire
  • Many books and pamphlets relating to local and family history many that have been privately researched, including some memorial inscriptions
  • Dootson Collection - The Dootson Collection is housed in Leigh Local Studies. The collection consists of books, pamphlets, manuscripts relating to Lancashire and in particular those relating to Leigh. A local solicitor, Thomas R Dootson actively engaged in collecting materials about his home town of Leigh and the county of Lancashire. He bequeathed the collection to the town which is in two parts; the first is the Lancashire Collection which contains around 2500 books about Lancashire as well as books by Lancashire born authors and those who have lived in the county from around the 19th and 20th century. The second part contains books of general interest such as literature, Egyptology etc. The Leigh portion contains books by Leigh authors which range from circa 1690 to the early 20th century, of interest is Adam Mort’s Diary (1693 – 1729). Some of these manuscripts are now housed at Wigan Borough Archives in Leigh Town Hall.

Rate the information on this page

green smiley (good) orange smiley (average) red smiley (poor)

© Wigan Council