Access to Closed Records
Some of the records in our care contain personal information about living individuals, or other sensitive information. In such cases, records may be marked as ‘closed’ for a set period of time, often 100 or 80 years from the date that the document was created. Closed records are not generally available to view in our public search room, but we have procedures in place to allow access to the records in certain circumstances.
The procedures on this page are appropriate for most records. However for a small number of our collections different access procedures apply, in accordance with the wishes of the owner or depositor. Staff will be able to advise you in such instances.
If you wish to access closed records:
1. You may make a written request to be given specific information from the records
2. You may apply to the owner of the material for permission to come and view the records for research purposes
Written requests for information from closed records
You can make a written request for information from closed archive material, by e-mail or by post. You may ask us for information about a specific topic, organisation, about another person or about yourself. If you request information about yourself from closed records, your enquiry will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act 1998 (see below).
We will search the closed records on your behalf and if we find the information, we then need to consult with the owner of the records to obtain permission to release the information to you. Occasionally we may not be allowed to release the information to you. Examples of information that may not be released include personal information about other living individuals and medical information about hospital patients.
We will charge a fee for searching closed records on your behalf, of £30 per hour. Before conducting any search we will estimate the time needed to search the records and notify you of the fee. You can then decide whether you wish to proceed with the search, or whether you wish to make an application to view the records (see below).
Unfortunately we cannot refund your research fee once a search has been conducted, even if we do not find the information you have asked for or if we are not able to release the information to you for legal reasons.
We aim to deal with research requests within 30 working days, but please be aware that it may take longer to process your enquiry if you have requested extensive research. We must also wait for a response from the owner of the records before we can provide the final response to your enquiry.
The Data Protection Act 1998
If you ask us for your own personal information from closed records, we will deal your request under the Data Protection Act 1998. We aim to answer your request within 40 calendar days. No research fee will be charged but we must still obtain permission from the owner of the records before releasing information to you.
Applications to view records for research purposes
If you wish to apply to view closed records for research, please ask us for an application form. Once completed, we will pass this to the owner of the material and they will assess your application. If you application is approved, you can then visit the archives to view the records. When visiting the archives you will need to bring your authorised application form with you, as well as a reader’s ticket or suitable forms of personal identification (please ask staff for a separate leaflet).
Many of our records are privately owned and so the owner may be an individual or organisation outside Birmingham City Council. As a consequence, we cannot specify a time period in which your application will be dealt with, or guarantee that permission will be granted.
Please be aware that some archives and heritage material is in very poor physical condition and cannot be handled. In such cases, we may not be able to search the item in response to your enquiry, or allow you to view the item.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000
Members of the public have the right to make a written request for information from Birmingham City Council under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We aim to comply with the requirements of this legislation through the enquiry services provided above. More information about the Act can be found at: www.birmingham.gov.uk/foi. If you would like to make a request, an application form can be found on the website. Alternatively, please direct your request to the address below.
Enquiries should be addressed by post to:
Birmingham Archives and Heritage
6th floor - Birmingham Central Library
By e-mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org
By telephone:+44 (0)121 3034549