The Fenland Collection is based at Wisbech Library, with satellite collections at Ely and March libraries, and is a comprehensive resource of printed material relating to the geographic area of the Fens. Over 4000 items cover many aspects of life in the Isle of Ely, West Norfolk and South Lincolnshire.
There are also specialist collections on Thomas Clarkson and the Abolition of Slavery (at Wisbech Library) and on Ely Cathedral (at Ely Library).
Archive resources for the Cambridgeshire Fens are held at Cambridgeshire Archives and at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.
Census and parish records
There are no current electoral registers held in the Fenland Collection. Contact Fenland District Council.
A few historical registers are available for Wisbech and surrounding villages, 1969-2001 (with some gaps).
Cambridgeshire Poll Books for 1780, 1802, 1831 and 1832.
The library has subscriptions to Ancestry and Find My Past which are available from PCs in the library. The 1841 - 1901 census returns for the Isle of Ely and some West Norfolk parishes are also available on microfilm.
Transcripts of Fenland parish registers by the Cambridgeshire Family History Society and Fenland Family History Society are available on CD.
There is a comprehensive collection of memorial inscriptions from parochial and church cemeteries in Fenland produced on CD by the Fenland Family History society.
Visitors are advised to book in advance to use the microfilm reader/printer and family history computer at Wisbech Library to avoid disappointment. See contact details on this page.
Wisbech, March and Ely libraries each hold Ordnance Survey maps covering their own area. Maps held range in scale from 1:500 to 1:10,000 and date from 1886. Landranger, Pathfinder and Explorer maps, geological and land use maps are also available.
Wisbech Library has print maps of the county from the 17th - 19th centuries.
Goad plans of Wisbech town centre from 1969 onwards are available. March and Ely libraries also hold Goad plans for their own town.
Newspapers and periodicals
The titles listed below are all on microfilm; no original historical newspapers are held in these libraries.
Visitors are advised to book in advance to use the microfilm reader/printers to avoid disappointment.
- The Star in the East: Sept 1836 - April 1840
- The Working Bee: July 1839 - May 1840
- Wisbech Advertiser: 1845 - present (excluding 1963 - 1973)
- Wisbech Chronicle, General Advertiser & Lynn News continued as North Cambridgeshire Echo: 1858 - 1903 (some gaps)
- Wisbech Constitutional Gazette: 1878 - 1943 (odd gaps)
- Wisbech Standard: 1888 - present
- Cambridge Independent Press: 1895 - 1912 (some gaps)
- Ely Standard: 1913 - 1986 (some gaps)
- Whittlesey Town Crier: 1988 - 1991
- Cambridgeshire, Huntingdon & Peterborough Life: Oct 1966 - Dec 1985
- Cambridgeshire Life: 1986 - 1991 and Aug 2002 - Sept 2005
- Cambridgeshire Journal: Jan 2000 - Jul 2004
- Cambridgeshire Times: 1872 -1987 (with gaps)
- East Anglian Magazine: 1947 - Aug 1982
- Lincolnshire Life: Dec 1975 to date
- Norfolk Fair: 1976 -1986
- The East Anglian: 1858 - 1869 and 1885 - 1910
- Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society: 1885 to date
- Fenland Notes and Queries: 1891 - 1909
- Ely Weekly Guardian: 1889 - 1898 and 1905 - 1909
- Ely Gazette: 1898 - 1912 (some gaps)
- Ely Standard: 1913 - present
The Cambridgeshire Collection can provide some indexes to Ely news:-
- Ely Standard village news: 1914-1919 and 1939 - 1945
- Cambridge Chronicle: 1770 - 1860
- Press cuttings from local papers concerning Ely news: 1958 onwards
- Cambridgeshire Times: 1872 - 1995 and 2000 - present
- March Advertiser & County Press: 1903 - 1915
The Fenland Collection holds a small collection of photographs, but many more are available in the Cambridgeshire Collection and you can use the online library catalogue to search for these.
The Fenland Collection holds some aerial photographs of the area and also a collection of photographs compiled by the National Monuments Record Centre.
The Lillian Ream Collection
Between 1907 and 1971 the Lilian Ream studio took an extensive series of photographs documenting the people and lifestyles of Wisbech.
The value of the surviving photographs as social documents is immense. They offer a unique insight into the past, bringing to life the ordinary people, places and day-to-day activities of this Cambridgeshire market town.
The collection is recognised as being one of the best of its type in the country, and its national importance has been recognised by experts from the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television.
Wisbech library is an access and ordering point for the collection.
5 Ely Place
Email: [email protected]
Trade and Telephone Directories
The Fenland Collection holds a comprehensive collection of historical trade directories published by Pigot, Kelly, Slater etc, including county directories for Cambridgeshire from 1791/98 - 1937 and a selection of local town directories from the 20th century onwards (N.B. these are not published regularly). A small number are also available for Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
Peterborough & district 1965 - present
Peterborough & district Yellow Pages 1980 - present
Kings Lynn & district 1982 - present
(N.B all with some gaps)