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Record offices are the main repositories for archived records specifically relating to the local area they serve. Key genealogical sources held in record offices normally include:

  In addition several Record Offices provide access to microfilm/fiche copies of:

Most counties have a single record office serving the whole county. Several counties have multiple record offices serving different areas or boroughs within the county. For example there are three record offices within Devon - one for north Devon, one for west Devon and one for east/mid/south Devon. Yorkshire (always a law until itself) has no less than 16 record offices within its boundaries.

The level of information provided on the web sites of different record offices varies considerably. Some, such as the Cheshire Archives provide a comprehensive guide to their collections, facilities provided, research services offered and their location together with an online catalogue to their holdings which you can search on. Others only provide minimal contact information on their web site.  In addition to the record office's own web site, it is worth checking out the National Archive's Access to Archives (A2A) and, in the case of Wales, the Archive Network Wales web sites for information on the record office's archived collections.

Proof of identity is normally required to gain access to a record office's searchroom. The vast majority of record offices are members of the CARN reader tickets scheme.

There is a wide variation between different record offices on their rules and charges for the reproduction (photocopying, flatbed scanning, photographing) of archived documents - see the entry within this web site for your specific record office to check out what its rules and charges are.

This page last updated: 6 June 2011