Discovering Archives Online
The majority of collections that have been catalogued will have an entry online, although it may be only a short description. But not all collections are described online, and many collections cannot be discovered through a search engine, such as Google.
Many archives are described in detail on paper lists or catalogues held at the record office or repository that holds them.
The information on this page is intended to help you with searching across repositories and record offices in the UK and Europe. Many of the record offices have their own websites as well, and if you know where the archives are that you want to use, you might prefer to use their website, but archives are often held in surprising places, and therefore using an aggregator, which searches across 100's of institutions, is often the best way to start your research.
You are currently on the Archives Hub, which is for searching across archives held in the UK. The Archives Hub represents many of the UK's universities, as well as specialist institutions, colleges, business archives and cultural organisations. We also have some local record offices, but the Archives Hub is not necessarily the best place to start for family history, as it does not cover diocesan and parish archives.
Searches across records of central government and the courts of law in England and Wales, as well as a number of collections held in repositories across the UK and also the National Register of Archives, which is a record of accessions (brief overviews of recently deposited archives).
An aggregator for archives held in the London area (not necessasrily about London). It is at collection-level only (i.e. it does not describe series or items). It covers higher education institutions, learned societies, cultural organisations and livery companies.
A catalogue for the holdings of over 50 Scottish archives. Soon to be updated with a new interface and expanded catalogue.
A catalogue providing short descriptions of archives held in Wales.
A portal to link you to archival collections throughout the island of Ireland
An aggregation of descriptions of archives held across Europe, APE includes the descriptions held on the Archives Hub.
Design for an undulating railway. From the Richard Badnall papers at the University of Salford.
Archives often contain surprising and wonderfully eccentric content. The process of discovery can be part of the fun of working with archives!