Top places to explore your US ancestry in the UK

Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Mayflower ship from the UK to the ‘New World’ of America. The anniversary will commemorate the legacy of the passengers and crew who undertook the epic journey for the promise of newfound liberty.

There are over 35 million descendants of the passengers and crew who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 and the Mayflower 400 UK national visitor project is inviting them and other ancestral tourists to visit England and be a part of the anniversary year.

Here are just a few of the places highlighted as must visit places for US travellers looking to learn more about their ancestral roots in the UK.

Brunel Institute at Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Those interested in their ancestry can access objects and expert help from one of the world’s finest maritime collections. The 67,000 items in the collection include books and periodicals, logs and personal diaries of crew members and passengers. The collections also include the complete run of Mariner’s Mirror and an almost complete run of Lloyd’s Register.

International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive

The IBCC provides a world-class facility acknowledging the efforts, sacrifices and commitment of the men and women, from 62 different nations, who came together in Bomber Command during WWII. The project also covers the stories of those who suffered as a result of the bombing campaigns and those whose survival was guaranteed by the humanitarian operations of Bomber Command. There is a free-to-use digital archive of documents and oral histories from across the world, covering aviation and military heritage.

Essex Records Office, Chelmsford

Tracing English ancestors can begin at home, through Essex Records Office’s remote search option for US residents. The Essex Record Office holds many thousands of documents, maps, photographs, sound recordings and videos

The Box

As well as housing exhibitions, events and performances, Plymouth’s flagship building for the Mayflower 400 commemorations will also be the principal archive for the area’s historical records. Plymouth’s shipping records, house and property histories and cemetery, prison, mortuary and workhouse records are all held here. Archive highlights include Plymouth’s Bomb Book, which records where and when various devices were dropped on the city during World War II air raids. Group tours and talks and help from a private researcher are available on request. There’s an online catalogue too. Opening 2020.

Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial

The visitor centre incorporates personal stories, photographs, films and interactive displays including Americans in Great Britain. Group tours are free and visitors are advised to book in advance. There are also an extensive amount of educational resources available online. europe/cambridge-american-cemetery

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