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Archives and Local Studies Collections

Carlisle Castle, Cumbria Record Office  from 1961 - Image 386575 © Samantha JonesStudents of all ages will be fascinated by evidence that has been generated by a local person and may never have been read by anybody else; archive sources give everyone the opportunity to be a real historian.

Archive material is varied; ranging from ancient deeds made from parchment, hand written minute books or log books through to modern media such as photographs and films. Most of it is unique written material produced during the course of a person's life or employment or a contemporary record of an event or transaction.

Archive sources, along with [generally printed] local studies material such as newspapers, maps and commercial directories, exist for all areas but it is not always obvious where to find those relevant to you.

There is a network of archive repositories covering the whole of Britain although they are known by a variety of names including County Record Offices, Archives, Local Studies Centres, Heritage Centres or Local History Centres. Archives can also be found in other places such as museums, universities and local libraries.

Local Studies material may also be found in all of these places although most collections will be in larger libraries in either the reference library or local studies library.

The Internet has made it easier for teachers to find archive sources.Sixth Form students visit Wolverhampton Archives & Local Studies

To find your nearest archive repository for local sources visit the National Archives [HMC] ARCHON web site and search by place.

To find source material on a specific topic visit the Access to Archives[A2A] site which allows you to search nationally by subject.

Once you have identified the most likely office, then contact them by telephone, e-mail or post and they will be able to confirm that they have the sources you are interested in and may well be able to suggest others.

They will also be able to tell you what services they can offer to teachers. Some have education officers; all should be able to offer advice and photocopies of sources, depending on condition and copyright.

Because of the unique nature of archive sources all offices have rules about access. It is essential to make contact before taking or sending pupils in.

Visit the Archives for Education and Learning Group web site for a selection of downloadable documents with background notes and suggested activities.

Follow any of the links below for more information on finding sources

Find Sources : World Wide Web :
English Heritage Education Service : National Monuments Record

Please note that the inclusion of a listed building on this website does not mean it is open to the public.