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Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Access Policy

1. Mission statement


Staffordshire Archives and Heritage is made up of the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service and the County Museum Service. It also manages the William Salt Library on behalf of the charitable trust that administers the Library.

The aim of the service is: To locate, collect and preserve irreplaceable archive and museum collections relating to the past and present life and work of people of the county of Staffordshire and the City of Stoke on Trent and to preserve the archives of the Diocese of Lichfield, thereby contributing to the national network of archive and museum care.

Our mission is: To connect people to the memories of Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent, by engaging them with the collections we develop and preserve for current and future generations

2. Policy aims


This policy sets out how access is provided to the Archive and Heritage Service collections. It provides information on restrictions to access, where charges might apply and links to other relevant policies.

3. Statutory and legal status


The Joint Archive Service is jointly administered and funded by Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council under the terms of a Joint Agreement for Archive Services with effect from 1st April 2011.


The Heritage Service is funded and managed by Staffordshire County Council and delivered by Staffordshire County Museum.


Staffordshire Record Office is:

  • Appointed by the Lord Chancellor for the deposit of Public Records under the terms of the Public Records Act 1958, for the deposit of specified classes of Public Records including Quarter Sessions, HM Coroners, hospital records, magistrates’ court records.

  • Recognised by the Master of the Rolls for the deposit of manorial and tithe records under the Law of Property Act, 1922, and the Tithe Act, 1936.

  • Designated by the Bishop of Lichfield for the deposit of Anglican parish records for the archdeaconries of Lichfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Walsall under the Parochial Register and Records Measure, 1978 (amended 1992).

  • Recognised by The National Archives as a repository meeting the Standard for Archive Repositories.


Stoke-on-Trent City Archives is:

  • Appointed by the Lord Chancellor for the deposit of Public Records under the terms of the Public Records Act 1958, for the deposit of specified classes of Public Records including Quarter Sessions, HM Coroners, hospital records, magistrates court records.

  • Recognised by The National Archives as a repository meeting the Standard for Archive Repositories


Staffordshire County Museum is

  • Operated and founded under the terms of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and Local Government Act 1972.

  • Recognised as a Fully Accredited Museum under Arts Council England’s Museum Accreditation scheme.


The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service has previously been recognised as meeting the Customer Service Excellence for excellence in public service in its own right. It has a Service Charter setting out standards of service (see Appendix 1).

4. Onsite access

4.1 General

Access to the Archive and Heritage collections is available to our community and stakeholders. These include:

  • People of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

  • Depositors and donors

  • Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council staff and councillors

  • Local, family and community history groups

  • Potential users from within and outside this geographical area with an enquiry relating to our collections.

Access will be provided free of charge at Staffordshire Record Office, Lichfield Record Office, Stoke-on-Trent City Archives, William Salt Library and the County Museum in a secure area supervised by staff.

Customers are required to provide proof of identification and obtain a reader’s ticket to gain access to original collections in the Archive Service and William Salt Library. Use of original archives is subject to observance of the Code of Conduct for each office and the access restrictions for specific collections.

Museum collections are generally accessible through permanent and temporary displays and exhibitions.  Reserve collections can be viewed by appointment, free of charge.

4.2 Our Staff

Visitors to our service points can expect:

  • A friendly welcome, from clearly identifiable staff

  • Assistance in using our public service points

  • Assistance in identifying the collections necessary for an enquiry

  • Availability of original documents, objects, microforms and online collections within the limits of the Service’s security, conservation, and access policies

4.3 Security

In order to protect our collections visitors to our service points will be asked to observe security measures. These are described in the Code of Conduct for each record office and include:

  • Registering for a reader’s ticket

  • Signing in a visitor’s register

  • Securing bags in lockers outside the search room

4.4 Handling and preservation

All staff are required to be proactive in supervising access to original collections. In Safe Keeping gives guidance on using original archive material. Each service point provides equipment to support safe handling of original items. For heavily used items surrogates are provided as the first means of access to preserve the original item. Access to the original would be at the discretion of staff.

4.5 Use of cameras and copying

Copying documents and using cameras to photograph items is permitted subject to copyright and condition of the item. Use of cameras and copying services are detailed in our leaflets on:

  • Photography and scanning services

  • Copying options

Restrictions on copying are given in the following leaflets:

  • Copyright

  • In Safe Keeping

4.6 Access restrictions

Some collections may have access restrictions on them and this will be clearly identified in our catalogues. Restrictions may occur for the following reasons:

  • To comply with legislation such as Data Protection or Freedom of Information

  • If the items are considered too fragile to produce and further damage may occur

  • If a depositor has requested a closure period or other restriction on access

If an item cannot be produced for use staff will explain the reason why not and, where applicable, explain how to gain permission to access an item. If an item is fragile staff will advise on alternative sources and/or seek advice from conservation staff on future access.

5. Remote access

5.1 Websites

The service website is hosted on Staffordshire County Council’s website. The content on the site is kept under review and the service aims to update it promptly with new information. The service also has content available on the following websites:

5.2 Digital content on partner sites

The service has digitised some of its name-rich collections with its partner Find My Past. Free access is offered at Archive Service sites, Staffordshire Libraries and Stoke on Trent City Libraries.

Oil paintings from the Museum Service’s fine art collection are available on line on Art UK.

5.3 Online catalogue

Gateway to the Past is the Archive and Heritage Service online catalogue. It holds information about collections for the Joint Archive Service, County Museum and the William Salt Library. Content is added regularly to the catalogue. Please see our Collections Information Policy for more information.

5.4 Enquiries by post or email

The service aims to assist users in accessing collections by advising about availability of material. Information on our services and resources held will be given free of charge. For research which requires access to original documents, surrogates, searching of online records, enquirers will be offered our chargeable research service or copying services. Standards for response times to enquiries are outlined in our Service Charter.

5.5 Use of social media

The service uses social media to promote its collections and new and existing users with the service. Items may include news, events, new collections, projects and interesting items in existing collections. The service currently uses (but is not limited to):

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Blogging sites

For more information please see our Digital Engagement Strategy (110kb).

5.6 Learning and engagement activities

Staffordshire Archives & Heritage delivers a variety of learning and engagement activities to encourage a wide range of use of its collections. These activities are promoted online, through social media, and mailing lists. They may include:

  • Talks and visits

  • Exhibitions

  • Events and study days

  • Externally funded projects working with communities

  • Educational visits by schools, colleges and universities

  • Reminiscence sessions

In May 2019 Staffordshire Archives and Heritage submitted a stage 1 bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop the Staffordshire History Centre. During the development stage of this project a detailed Activity Plan, Learning Policy and Engagement Strategy will be finalised.

6. Review


This policy will be reviewed every five years or sooner if circumstances require it.


September 2016 (factual amendments July 2019)

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