Find My Past

Find My Past

This guide will introduce you to Find My Past and show you how to do a basic search.

You can print or download this Find My Past helpsheet [563 KB].

FindMyPast is a popular database aimed at family history researchers.  It is only available on library computers.

Logging on

Log onto one of the library computers. When the tiles appear, scroll down and click on the FindMyPast tile.

Screenshot of public computer library tiles

Searching for records

FindMyPast draws from many of the same information sources as Ancestry – parish records, censuses, military and migration information etc. Therefore it is often a good idea to check both sources to ensure that nothing is missed. Two collections on FindMyPast are worth noting:

Education & work collection - drawn from school records and registers, it has a much broader coverage than Ancestry.

Censuses and the 1939 Register - the option to search by address is only available on FindMyPast.

Please note that the Newspapers & periodicals collection is not covered by our subscription, but articles can be found on The British Newspaper Archive available to access free in all West Sussex libraries.

Screenshot of search function

From the FindMyPast home page you can search all the records or choose one of the collections that you wish to browse from the Quick Links. 

As an example, the quickest way to search the UK census is to select the A-Z of record sets, rather than Census, land & surveys. As numbers file before letters, you will be able to quickly identify individual censuses.

Screenshot of A-Z record sets

Once you have selected the census that you wish to search, enter the full name of the person you are looking for and their date of birth (or your best guess - you can search for a number of years either side).  You will then see the first page of results.

Screenshot of names from 1901 Census

You can choose to view a transcription of the document by clicking on the page icon:

Screenshot of transcription image

Or you can view a copy of the original census record by clicking on the image icon:

Screenshot of transcription image

Note: some records may be transcriptions only

You can save the document and email it to yourself at home or print a copy for 20p per A4.

For more help with using FindMyPast and family research generally, remember to check our What’s on in Libraries page for forthcoming events.

Other ways we can help you find the information that you need:

Contact the Library Service

Local Clubs and Societies

Family History

Local History


Homework and Research

This guide has been produced by West Sussex County Council Library Service © 2020.

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