Before you visit the Archives, you can find out what we have that might be useful to your research on our Online Catalogue or using our Guides and Indexes. If you see something you want to look at, note its reference number, title and covering dates and contact us to make an appointment.
If you haven't found anything on our Catalogue (it is a work in progress) or if you're not sure what we have that could help your research, please contact us with your query via email or telephone.
Preparing for your visit
It helps if you do the following:
- Bring as many of your notes with you as you can!
- Think about what you're aiming for in your research - what do you want to find? Try and focus on one person / research interest at a time before moving on to the next.
- If you are looking at a large date range, try and narrow it down - this saves you having to look through multiple volumes with the same information (and reduces unnecessary handling of the collections).
- Bring some notepaper, a pencil and a rubber - pens cannot be used in the searchroom.
- You can bring your own digital camera to take copies - there will be a small charge for using your camera - details of our charges are available via our Table of Fees or on request.
- You can bring your laptop / tablet / iPad.
We will get any items you have requested in advance out ready for you on the day of your visit, but you can ask for more materials on the day.
In the searchroom
When you make an appointment to visit, you will be asked to comply with our Searchroom Guidelines:
Failure to do so may result in you being refused access to the searchroom. You may be asked to provided identification in order to access some records covered by the Data Protection Act: you will be advised about this when you make your appointment.
If you would like to take photographs of collection items during your visit, you will need to fill out a copyright form and pay a self service copy fee.
Some records may only give you a small amount of information, or even what may look to be incorrect information. This is because the archives we hold were (on the whole) created for administrative purposes, and would have served an administrative function when they were being used. Records created annually, for example, only show information from a particular time of the year and not any changes which happened throughout the year.
Above all, we want you to get the most out of your visit! Staff are always available to answer any questions you might have both before and during your visit. If you are unsure of what you are looking at, please ask, we will be happy to help!
If you are planning on staying for a whole day, please note that neither office has facilities for you to eat your own lunch on site. Both sites have a number of cafes nearby.