Peterborough Archives Service

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Peterborough Archives Service provides access to a wide range of resources that can be used to research the heritage and culture of Peterborough and the surrounding area, so people can discover more about the history of their local area, family or house. Volunteers are welcome.

This activity is good for wellbeing because

  • the Archives help people to engage with the past, specifically to a past that has a personal connection (e.g. ancestor, house, street, community)
  • they provide opportunities for learning and discovery
  • they enable people to develop new skills or improve existing ones (e.g. research, palaeography, family history, even computing)

Paul, manager of the Peterborough Archives, tells us what they have to offer:

What to expect?

Peterborough Archives hold more than 250 collections of original documents, manuscripts and photographs in secure stores, occupying over 1km of shelving. Their extensive collections, dating from the medieval period to the present, include original historical documents, maps, drawings, photographs, newspapers and books, as well as film and sound recordings. Their mission is to preserve these records and make them available to anyone who wishes to discover more about the history of their local area, family or house.

The collections have been accumulated from a wide range of sources, both official and private. Material in the collections includes:

  • Local authority records (including those of local parish and district councils);
  • Public records (such as court and coroner’s records);
  • Medieval charters;
  • Records of local businesses, societies and organisations;
  • School records;
  • Memoirs and family papers;
  • Maps, newspapers and photographs;
  • Electoral registers;
  • Literary manuscripts.

Most of the records in the collections may be freely consulted in their dedicated search room, located within Peterborough’s Central Library. Their search room also houses hundreds of local-interest books, some of which may be borrowed and read at home.

If you cannot visit the Archives in person, then staff may be able to undertake research for you at a small cost.

Or you may find it useful to consult their online catalogue to see what records they hold that might be of interest to your research. Their catalogue can be searched from anywhere in the world.

More information

Peterborough Archives rely on the support of a dedicated team of volunteers to help them sort and catalogue new material, to index old newspapers and to run events. If you would like to work as a volunteer in the archives, please contact them via phone or email.

If you have historical records that you would like to be preserved for future generations to see, you may be able to donate them to the Archives – contact them to discuss.

Peterborough Ltd is responsible for the service delivery of Peterborough Libraries and Archives, Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, and Flag Fen.

Access to the Library and Archives is wheelchair-friendly.

There are no public toilets.

There is limited on-street paid parking on Park Road; the nearest car parks are Brook Street and North Street, both about a 5 minute walk from the library. There are bus stops on Broad Street outside the Tesco near Westgate, about a 2 minute walk away.

Accessing the Archives is free.

There are charges for photocopying, creating digital copies, and having a member of staff research for you. Find the costs on the Archive Charges page.

the oldest document in our archives, dating back to the time of King Henry III (1216-1272).

This is the oldest document in the Archives, dating back to the time of King Henry III (1216-1272).

It records the granting, by a father to his children, of a toft and croft in the hamlet of Newark, together with arable land nearby. The document is the earliest in a series of 25 charters, covering a period from c.1245 to 1485, relating to the parish church (St John) and guild lands of Peterborough.

Have a little look around the reading room of the Archives:

How to contact

Where to go

Peterborough Central Library
Peterborough PE1 1RX

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