Record Offices bring together collections of items and documents local to the area served by the Archive.
Local authority repositories are often referred to as County Record Offices or County Archives.
Most Archives have a search-room which includes reference books, catalogues and indexes. They also often have a strongroom where other records are kept.
You are usually able to order documents from the strongroom for scrutiny in the Search-room subject to the particular Archive's regulations for use.
Collections held by an Archive can include:
Trips to Archives should always be planned in advance. You are recommended to ring beforehand to check it is open on the day you intend to visit and also to book a table if this is required.
You should also check you do not have to book a microfilm or microfiche reader as some documents, such as parish registers, have become fragile over the years and have been transferred on to microfiche in order to protect the original documents as much as possible. Some census returns have also been transferred to microfilm.
When ringing, you should make sure the office has the material you want to access and also to make sure you do not have to give advance notice even if the Archive does have the material.
If you want to take a laptop with you it is worth mentioning this at the time of booking as some tables might not provide computer accessibility.
It is also best to check what parking is available if going by car, because they do not all have a car park for use by visitors.
To access the search room proof of identity is often required. This is usually an official document stating your name and address. If you are a member of the CARN (County Archive Research Network) this card is normally accepted as proof of identity.
You should take a pencil with you as most archivists require you to use this rather than a pen as using a pen could damage documents and/or books.