Archives Searchroom: About Us
What we do
We collect and preserve both original and printed records of historical significance, relating to the city of Birmingham, its people, businesses, institutions and societies.
Archival collections are sorted, catalogued and indexed to make them available for public research. We care for over 6,000 collections dating from the 12th century. They are stored on more than 14 miles of shelving and we acquire around 200 new accessions each year.
The types of archives we collect include:
Records of the city council and urban district councils. These include Birmingham council minutes, poor law union records for Aston, Kings Norton and Birmingham unions (please note, no workhouse inmate registers survive), rate books, education and school records for over 200 schools in Birmingham, council run children’s homes records, building plan applications from 1876 for Birmingham and its environs, urban and rural district council records for districts in Birmingham and records of Sutton Coldfield borough council.
These include court records for Birmingham Quarter Sessions from 1838 and magistrates courts/petty sessions records (please note, we have no Assize court registers), hospital records, including area health authority records as well as records of individual hospitals, coroner’s court records from the Birmingham coroner dating from 1875, probate records including copies of wills proved in Birmingham 1858-1941.
These include Anglican parish records for over 130 parishes in Birmingham, and also records from Methodist, Congregational, Society of Friends, Unitarian, Jewish and other congregations as well as diocesan records from the Birmingham Diocese. For Roman Catholic Church records please contact St Chad’s Cathedral, Cathedral House, St Chad’s Queensway, Birmingham B4 6EU, Tel: 0121 230 6252
These records notably include the Archives of Soho documenting the 18th century business and private concerns of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, the records of Metro-Cammell Ltd, railway rolling stock manufacturers supplying stock world wide in the 19th and 20th centuries, the business correspondence of John Hardman & Co, stained glass and metal manufacturers 19th century onwards, records of Cadbury, chocolate manufacturers of Bournville, particularly rich in personal family correspondence. There are many other local firms and businesses represented in our holdings.
Private and family records
These records include the whole spectrum of Birmingham life from family papers, letters, diaries, records of clubs, societies and charities, collections from solicitors, deeds, manorial and estate papers, wills, maps, plans, prints, photographs, drawings, watercolours, oral recordings.