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Research service

If you are unable to visit the Dorset History Centre in person, our research service may be able to help. We can search records held here and provide you with a written report of the findings. Copies can be provided where the information is not suitable for transcription.

The research service at the Dorset History Centre can search parish registers and other parish records for that elusive Dorset ancestor. We can search census returns, wills, manorial records, newspapers, published and unpublished works to trace the history of a family or piece of property. In addition we can consult our indexes and catalogues to identify additional sources, if any. 

The research service can also transcribe or provide a summary of a document though we regret we are unable to translate lengthy documents from Latin.

A word of warning

Due to the nature of some records, the way that they were written or the way that they were kept we cannot guarantee that we will be able to find the information that you are searching for. This may be because the documents are in poor condition, faded or illegible having been badly stored in the past. The information you have asked for may not have been recorded or may have been recorded in a different parish or county.

If we are unsuccessful, we will check our indexes, catalogues and other finding aids to try and locate alternative sources which might help you.

What we need from you

  • the surname of the family with which you are concerned, with given names where particular individuals are sought. While searching, we record and report other entries found for the requested surname, and any alternative spellings, for your information.
  • the parish(es) you wish us to search. Please bear in mind that while many parishes are small villages, parish registers for towns run into many volumes.
  • the type of record to be searched, whether a baptism, marriage or burial, or something else
  • the span of years to be searched. This should be achievable in the allocated research time. For example, a search over a hundred years of registers for a town or parish such as Blandford Forum or Poole would take more than two hours. A span of five or ten years either side of an expected date would be much more achievable within two hours.

Please do not send additional paperwork such as copies of birth certificates. If we are uncertain about any aspect of your request, we will contact you for clarification by post, e-mail or telephone, either in advance of starting, or, if necessary, while we are carrying out your search.

To book a search

Please fill in the research service application form (pdf, 237kb) (opens in a new window) and send it to the Dorset History Centre.

  • research costs £35 per hour and includes copies of up to three entries
  • transcriptions cost £40 per hour
  • our application form requires payment in advance for research
  • we can accept sterling cheque; or credit/debit cards via our online payment facility. If you wish to commission further research, we will ask you to complete a fresh research application form.

If you need any help with the application do not hesitate to contact us.

 

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