In the related question Starting pre-1837 research in England and Wales? I have residence information for George Hindley and Hannah Drake from their civil marriage certificate and a census enumeration, both from 1841.

As a next step, I would like to do neighborhood research, such as the approach in this article from the US National Archives' Prologue Magazine: Discovering Your Neighborhood: How to Use National Archives Records to Find Out More about Where You Live by M. Marie Maxwell.

In the US, for larger cities, NARA holds the enumeration district maps from the Census Bureau, and we have Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.

For England, is the preferred choice the historical Ordnance Survey maps at National Library of Scotland -- or something else?

TNA's guide for How to Find Census Records says:

For 1871 census registration district maps see Cassinimaps.co.uk

but doesn't talk about maps for other years. TNA also cautions:

House numbers were rarely given in earlier census years, and in rural areas you will often find only the name of the village or hamlet.

However, I don't need to search the census by street address. What I'm looking for are ideas to use the information I already have as pointers to other records.

I am also aware of the Historical Directory collection at University of Leicester (and other UK directories elsewhere), but they don't always have the same fine details that you can find in directories in the USA.

What other record collections and what strategies might be useful for surveying an entire neighborhood?

2 Answers 2


The first one-inch-to-the-mile series from the Ordnance survey only covered the county of Kent. They were published in 1801. A series for Essex followed shortly after.

From the 1840's onwards, maps at larger scales were produced. For the sort of task you are looking at, I suspect that you're going to need the six-inch-to-the-mile, or even the 25-inch-to-the-mile series. I've used these for map regression analysis on archaeology project in the past, but - frustratingly - they are often not available as early as you might want. It took a long time to produce maps for the whole of the UK. For example, the London series wasn't completed until the 1870's.

In addition to the Ordnance Survey, there were other who published maps for various areas of the UK. Cassini Maps is certainly a useful source, but I'd start by looking at old-maps and old maps online to get a feel for what is available for the areas of interest in your date range.

Also, take a look at the website for the local town or county records office. Their resources may not be available online, but many do now have a searchable online catalogue. In addition, they frequently have guides for local history research in their area which may include suggestions for particular sources for their area. In this case, the Sheffield City Archives & Local Studies Library have a guide on House history with suggestions on sources, including the larger scale Ordnance survey maps from the 1840's onwards.

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    The National Library of Scotland has a page for the Ordnance Survey maps giving the date ranges of initial surveys for each county, and of later revisions.
    – AndyW
    Oct 31, 2017 at 9:19

I've never found a single map repository that always has what I'm looking for, so I tend to start with a simple web search for something like "sheffield old maps", and compare what I find with modern maps, street view and so on to see if anything visible now might survive from then.

Starting with a search rather than a particular archive does have the advantage of bringing up specialist sites like SheffieldIndexers.com and the City Council's PictureSheffield.com, which may have information not held by the larger sites - not just maps but street indices, business directories and so on.

That said, the National Library of Scotland has an excellent maps archive that can overlay old maps on current ones with variable transparency, which can help clarify changes in the road layout. There aren't many high-detail maps from the early-mid 19th century, though. You'll probably have to get rough road layouts from old maps and details from newer ones, and try to work out how much had changed in between.

As noted, house numbers are not commonly included on censuses or maps. It's sometimes possible to guess them from the census if you can follow the taker's path between roads to work out where he started and finished. It's rather time consuming and error prone, but can be worth a try. You may have to work out if the street had sequential numbers up and down the street or odd numbers on one side and even on the other. If you're lucky, then the census might also name "points of interest" - pubs, schools, churches etc, which are often easier to locate on a map. This makes it easier to locate a particular address between two such points.

The Goad's Fire Insurance maps are an extraordinary exception - they do include some house numbers and many other details that can bring a neighbourhood to life. The British Library has a selection of these maps, but the only one I can (quickly) find that includes that part of Sheffield is from 1896 and only includes one end of Bailey Street. It appears to have a public house on the corner at No.3, which might help pin down some other addresses. That's probably the Dog & Partridge which can be seen there today on Google Street View. It looks like few other buildings on that street have survived to the present, though.

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