What we do
Find out more about what we do and the services we provide:
- Collecting and preserving archives
- Conservation service
- Copying service
- Research service
- Archive education service
Many of our services are either restricted or suspended while we prepare to relocate the archive service to The Story at Mount Oswald in 2023.
Collecting and preserving archives
Since 1961 Durham Record Office has accepted more than 10,000 deposits of records ranging from small collections of personal papers to the records of large companies. Our earliest document dates from about 1122 and the most recent records added to the archives include County Council committee reports for the current year.
We preserve over five miles of records in secure, atmospherically controlled strong rooms, to ensure they survive for future generations.
The Record Office accepts records in paper and digital formats. We welcome information about records in need of long-term preservation. If you know of records of local significance, especially where their survival is in any way at risk, we would like to hear from you.
We accept records as a gift to the Record Office or on long-term loan. There is no charge for this service (although we do reserve the right to cover our costs if records are subsequently removed from the Record Office).
You can find our agreement for the deposit of records on our Policies page.
Important historical documents have been found in attics, cellars, dustbins and skips. We are always willing to examine records in their current location, either single items or large collections, and advise on their care and preservation.
We can advise any individual, business or organisation about which records should be selected for permanent preservation from the bulk of modern papers. When considering which documents to preserve, please remember:
• age does not necessarily determine historical value
• many modern records and papers are of potential historical significance.
If you would like further information on depositing records please contact us.
Our conservation service ensures that the archives in our care are preserved for future generations.
We also provide advice and a conservation service for private individuals and outside agencies. If you would like further information on this please contact us.
Archive material often requires the skilled attention of our conservator. We can repair and conserve most damaged and fragile documents in a well-equipped conservation studio. We repair paper and parchment documents using traditional and modern techniques and undertake all forms of book binding.
There is an ongoing programme of digitisation. Our most popular documents are copied to prevent deterioration from overuse and we digitise fragile documents to protect them from further damage.
Original documents which have been microfilmed or digitised are still protected and preserved for the future.
Our visitor services are currently suspended while we prepare to relocate the archive service in 2023. We look forward to offering much better research facilities for visitors at The Story at Mount Oswald.
Our copying services are currently suspended while we prepare to relocate the archive service in 2023.
We offer specialist document copying for the archives in our collections, including high quality digital copies for project, professional and commercial use, as well as for private study. We can also digitise precious family records belonging to individuals or material held by outside organisations such as libraries, museums and local history groups.
Copying equipment includes:
• Photocopier (black and white or colour copies up to A3 size)
• Laser printer (high quality prints on photographic paper up to A3 size)
• Overhead digital camera (high resolution images of documents up to A0 size, or larger if images are merged)
• Overhead book scanner (digital copies of documents up to A2 size)
• Flat-bed scanner (digital copies of documents and photos up to A3 size)
• Negative scanner (digital copies of small and medium format glass and plastic film negatives)
Our research service is currently suspended while we prepare to relocate the archive service in 2023.
Archive education and outreach service
We provide an active and innovative archive education service for primary and secondary schools in County Durham and Darlington.
This includes the Learning Zone, our dedicated online resource for teachers and students.
We work in partnership with teachers on regional education and outreach projects to explore treasures within the archives and promote their use in schools. Pupils use a wide range of documentary evidence to develop an understanding of past events and how those events can be interpreted through differing viewpoints.
We use archives to inspire creativity in schools. We have worked successfully with writers, artists and dance and drama specialists to develop potential in students of all ages.
The Learning Zone section of our website contains:
• online resources for most Key Stages of the National Curriculum
• information about our resource packs and resource boxes for use in the classroom
• advice about the archive educational visits and workshops we offer.
Our recently developed online Exhibitions space complements our outreach programme in the community.
We also provide an active programme of online family and local history sessions and free ‘Third Thursday’ talks by speakers keen to share their love of archive collections.