About the archives

We welcome anyone with an interest in the stories of Southwark: its people, places, things, ideas, and events. Whether you are interested in finding out about your ancestors, your house, or your neighbourhood, we can help you learn from and enjoy the materials we hold in trust for the borough.  

We collect records relating to the modern London Borough of Southwark, often described as London’s most historic borough. It stretches south from the Thames between the Oxo Tower and Deptford, and encompasses the districts of Southwark, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Walworth, Camberwell, Peckham, Nunhead and Dulwich.

As Southwark’s borough archive, we hold records of local government bodies, including:

  • the ten ancient civil parishes in the area 
  • the Metropolitan Boroughs of Bermondsey, Camberwell, and Southwark  
  • the London Borough of Southwark 

We also hold a variety of other records given or loaned to us by local:

  • churches and religious groups;
  • community organisations and institutions;
  • political parties, pressure groups, and labour organisations; and
  • businesses, individuals, families, estates, and properties.

A range of films (pdf) reflecting life in the borough from 1920s to the present can be viewed by arrangement. Some of our films can also be viewed online.

Southwark Archives has a limited amount of space and equipment, and many of our archives are stored off-site. For this reason, we require visitors who want to use our original records to book an appointment with us in advance.

Other places to find records about Southwark

A number of other archives hold records about Southwark. The London Metropolitan Archives holds records of local Anglican parishes, Poor Law Unions, schools, hospitals, and first responders. It also holds the oldest records of St. Saviour’s civil parish.

Because Southwark was part of Surrey until 1888, the Surrey History Centre in Woking holds local court records and electoral registers. The British Library also holds copies of local electoral registers.

The National Archives holds records of central government, including military, immigration, and court records. Local businesses, universities, charities, and other organisations may have their own archives. The National Archives’ Discovery website can help you who holds records you’re interested in.

Research guides

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

Donations

If you have material that you'd like to donate to the archives, please contact us. One of our archivists will determine whether it would be a suitable addition to our collections or better suited to another institution.

Page last updated: 14 September 2022

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