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.
The Archives Hub
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 the best place to start for family history, as it does not cover diocesan and parish archives.
Descriptions on the Hub vary in the level of depth provided, but they all give you core information about a collection, and tell you where the collection is held.
New descriptions are being added all the time. But remember that it is not comprehensive and if you can't find what you are looking for, you may like to try some of the other services available.
The National Archives: Discovery
A new integrated search from the National Archives, Discovery covers over 20 million descriptions of records created by central government and the courts of law in England and Wales
- The National Archives
- local archives across the UK
- some archives abroad
Discovery can be used:
- to search for records from all of TNA's holdings
- to search for record creators
- to find information about institutions
Discovery has now been expanded to include The National Register of Archives (NRA) for people, bodies and places, and Access to Archives (A2A), a national aggregator of content.
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 over one hundred higher education institutions, learned societies, cultural organisations and livery companies and is updated regularly.
Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)
A catalogue for the holdings of over 50 Scottish archives.
Archives Wales (ANW)
A catalogue providing short descriptions of archives held in Wales.
Irish Archives Resource
A portal to link you to archival collections throughout the island of Ireland
Search Irish Archives Resource
Archives Portal Europe
An aggregation of descriptions of archives held across Europe, APE includes the descriptions held on the Archives Hub.