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Research your family history

Southwark Archives will remain closed until summer 2021 due to planned improvement works to the John Harvard Library. In the meantime, please address any postal enquiries to Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library, 147 Walworth Road, SE17 1RW or email the archives team.

Southwark is one of the biggest inner London boroughs and has been home to many different communities. If you'd like to learn more about the story of your family in Southwark, the Southwark Archives has a number of resources that can help you:

  • local electoral registers and local rate books - may connect people to the places in which they lived
  • New Poor Law and local workhouse records - can fill in gaps in an ancestor's story
  • local directories - give details of businesses and some individuals
  • deeds to local properties - may provide a glimpse into an ancestor's business, lifestyle, social circle, or other family members
  • photograph and audiovisual collections - may help bring old family stories to life
  • microfilmed local newspapers, files of press cuttings and pamphlets - can help to provide wider context for life in the past
  • Ancestry Library Edition - can provide a range of records from across the UK, USA and Canada
If you're planning to visit the Southwark Archives to look at original records, including Poor Law or workhouse records and deeds, contact us in advance as many records are stored off-site

The search room is the only place you can consult our holdings, including original records, microfilm, press cuttings, audiovisual material and original photographs. However, some of our image collection is available online on our collections site.

If you're interested in copying or publishing material from the library and archive then please consult our fees and publications page.

The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives directory is one way to find local researchers if you'd like to hire someone to carry out research on your behalf.

Research guides

The following guides have been written to help you navigate the collections and research some of the diverse communities of Southwark:

Postal copying service

If you're unable to visit the library and archive we can copy and send materials to you if you provide us specific details of information you'd like from our holdings.

Please note that this is not a research service, and we will not search holdings for a specific name. Instead, you'll need to provide us with exact date/address information, as well as any other relevant information, such as event type for parish registers or the content of a newspaper story.

The fee is payable in advance and is non-refundable, even if we cannot find the information requested.

Contact us for details of our holdings, to discuss what information we can provide and the information we require to make the search.

Page last updated: 04 June 2021

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