Portsmouth History Centre

Portsmouth History Centre is situated on the second floor of Portsmouth Central Library.  Records include resources regarding family, local and naval history, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens collections and official records of Portsmouth City Council dating from the 14th century.

Resources also include parish registers dating from the 16th century and materials deposited by local businesses, families and other organisations. They also have maps and plans, photographs and picture postcards.

Whether you are tracing your family history, researching the history of your local area, studying the history of a house, or conducting research for a school, college, or university assignment, you will find the documents held of use.  The knowledgeable and helpful staff are always on hand to help should you have any questions or require assistance.

Information regarding Portsmouth History Centre


Portsmouth History Centre 
Norrish Central Library 
Guildhall Square 


023 9268 8046 



For details of their opening hours and their collections, please visit the appropriate sections of their Home Page and discover more about their resources.  Parish records for the Diocese of Portsmouth are accessible on microfiche along with cemetery burial indexes.  Other collections available in the Office include:

  • Board of Guardians Minute Books
  • Civil Defence Records WW2
  • Creed Registers 1879-1953
  • Parish Registers
  • Police Staff and Administration Records
  • Quarter Sessions Records 1670-1882
  • Rate Books
  • School Books

Many books are also available, which include:

  • Army, Navy and Air Force Lists
  • Census books
  • Clergy Lists
  • Domesday Book
  • Genealogical periodicals
  • Heraldry, peerage and Coats of Arms
  • Place and personal names

Many documents are stored off-site so must be ordered in advance and take up to 5 working days to be delivered to the Archive.  If the document you wish to consult is available in the Office, you do not need to give advance notice to consult it. Some documents are not publicly accessible because of data protection laws or because they are fragile.

It is prudent to book a microfilm reader or genealogy computer before visiting in order to avoid disappointment, especially if you have travelled some distance.

You are allowed to take photographs of certain documents, but you must ask the permission of the staff before taking a photograph because some documents are not able to be photographed because they are fragile and easily damaged.  You are also required to obtain a photography permit, for which a charge is made.

A cafe is located on the third floor of the library and serves light lunches, snacks and homemade cakes.  Cold drinks, tea and coffee are also available.

A lift allows access to the second floor, with toilets being available on the second and third floors.

Portsmouth Archives is a member of the CARN (County Archive Research Network).

Please also view my pages regarding Hampshire Record Office and Southampton City Archives.

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