Family History Research: FAQs

We are frequently asked for help with family history research and the best advice we can give is to try the following options:

SMETHWICK’S ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

County:     up to 1966 –  Staffordshire    1966-1974 –  Worcestershire     post 1974  – none

Parish – up to 1842:  St Peter, Harborne.  (A chapel-of-ease was created in 1732:  this is now Smethwick Old Church.  The parish of Holy Trinity in Smethwick was created in 1842.)

Poor Law Union:  Kings Norton

Diocese:  up to 1900 – Lichfield                post 1900 –   Birmingham

Administrative Status:

Manor of Harborne and Smethwick: pre-Conquest – 1710

Manor of Smethwick – 1710 – 1830

1856 – Local Board of Health

1894 – Urban District

1899 – Borough

1907 – County Borough

1966 – subsumed within Borough of Warley 1974 – subsumed within Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell.

FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH

The society does not hold any archive material through which research can be done on individual families, businesses, or particular topics.

Because of its complex administrative history, records relating to Smethwick are scattered over a wide area.  Since 1974 Smethwick has been part of the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, and locally held records are in its custody.  Parish records are not at the county record office but are held at Sandwell Community History & Archives.  See their website at  www.sandwell.gov.uk/archives

Our colleagues at the Smethwick Heritage Centre Trust (a separate organisation, but with a number of members in common) run regular family history workshops and it might be that someone there would be willing to .  Send your enquiry to editors@smethwick-heritage.co.uk.  If you can do a short write-up of what you have discovered so far about your Smethwick connections it would be very helpful, and could be published in the Heritage Centre’s magazine, which goes out to around 1,000 addresses.  There’s always a chance that someone will read it and spot a connection with you.

Our colleagues at Smethwick Heritage Centre Trust may be able to offer more guidance.  The Trust has published an inexpensive guide to family history research, which includes my 6-page guide to records relating to SmethwickSee their website at http://www.smethwickheritagecentretrust.org.uk.

We hope that your research goes well, and you enjoy finding out more about your family and their life in Smethwick.

BUSINESSES

To find out about individual businesses, you need to consult the trade directories for Smethwick, which were published at very frequent intervals from about the 1880s to the 1960s.

Both Sandwell Community History and Archives department, and the Local Studies and History Service at the Central Library in Birmingham, have large collections of the local trade directories. See their respective websites www.sandwell.gov.uk/archives and  www.birmingham.gov.uk/centrallibrary.bcc

 PHOTOGRAPHS

Our colleagues at Smethwick Heritage Centre Trust may be able to help.  See their website at http://www.smethwickheritagecentretrust.org.uk.

Sandwell Community History and Archives department has a large collection of old photographs of the town. The majority of them are street scenes, with numbers of them from the 1920s and the 1950s.  See http://www.blackcountryhistory.org

DONATING DOCUMENTS

As a society we do not collect material, but try to direct anyone wishing to dispose of anything to what we consider to be the appropriate repository, so that it will be properly stored, catalogued, and be made available to anyone who might wish to see it – most especially for research purposes.

Sandwell Community History and Archives department will be interested to know about any documents you may be considering for donation. Their contact details are as follows: 

Telephone:  0121 569 4985 e-mail: archives@sandwell.gov.uk

Address:  High Street, Smethwick B66 1AB

DONATING ARTEFACTS

As a society we do not collect artefacts, but our colleagues at Smethwick Heritage Centre Trust are working to collect Smethwick memorabilia and photographs and will be interested to know about any that you may be considering for donation.   

See their website at http://www.smethwickheritagecentretrust.org.uk