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Records research service


Please note that research services are currently suspended 

Notice of temporary closure

The Staffordshire Record Office's onsite public service have now temporarily closed. This is to enable preparatory surveys to take place prior to construction of the Staffordshire History Centre. The development of the Staffordshire History Centre will create exciting and imaginative ways to connect Staffordshire people and their stories and result in both modern facilities for visitors and increase storage for future collections. You can find updates on the project here: Staffordshire History Centre

The staff team and volunteers will relocate to a temporary base during the construction period. Staff will provide a limited remote service including answering enquiries about the collection and providing a copying service.

From late spring we plan to provide physical access for statutory legal requirements and certain time-limited projects, where needs cannot be met through copying.

All services will be dependent on changing levels of access to the collections during the building project. We will review access on a regular basis and welcome feedback from service users.

The temporary closure is planned to last for 18 months dependent on the construction programme.

For further updates please continue to check this page.  You can stay in touch by subscribing to our Service newsletter and visiting our social media channels.

General information

Information concerning the nature and extent of the archives in our care is provided free of charge. If the information you require cannot be obtained by checking our indexes and catalogues but requires a search in the documents themselves, we will advise regarding the options available to you.

If you are unable to visit the Staffordshire Record Office in person or have little spare time to carry out research yourself, our Research Service can help you. It might also save you the time and expense of making a personal visit.

The work is undertaken efficiently and effectively by our experienced researcher, under the supervision of an archivist. We aim for the best in customer care and value for money. Our current research fee includes up to four copies in the first hour of research to offer value for money.

Our experience enables us to tackle problems that might perplex the beginner and often we can suggest a new approach when a trail goes cold.

If you would like to use this service please read the information set out below.

Due to staffing absences we are currently able to accept short lookup requests (up to 30 mins) only.  Longer research requests are on pause until further notice.  We apologise for any inconvenience.  We will be happy to advise regarding independent records research services. 

All of our current fees and charges are displayed on fees and charges page. Please do not make payment until we notify you of the final cost of your order.

Our standard is to notify you of the completion and cost of your research within 15 working days of the receipt of your order. 



What types of documents can be searched?

We will carry out searches in the following types of documents:

  • Parish and nonconformist registers for the historic county of Staffordshire including Stoke-on-Trent and the Black Country.
  • Census returns 1841-1901 for Staffordshire, and the UK (online).
  • Civil Registration (GRO) indexes 1837-1960 for England and Wales, and equivalent online indexes.
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI) for the British Isles.
  • Calendars of Prisoners and other court records.
  • Poor Law records, for both the early parish poor law and the Union workhouses.
  • Records for patients in the county’s asylums subject to access restrictions.
  • Historic electoral registers (where held) subject to sufficient information being supplied to identify the locality.
  • School admission records subject to access restrictions.
  • Tithe Maps and Apportionments, Enclosure Maps and Awards, Ordnance Survey Maps and other historic local maps and surveys.
  • Newspapers held at the William Salt Library that relate to criminal convictions or coroners’ cases.
  • Many other printed and original local sources held at the William Salt Library e.g. trade and Post Office directories, pedigrees.
  • Other records may include local taxation and rating records, family and estate collections that relate to servants or tenants.



How do I ask for a search?

Please email us setting out your request.  We will discuss your requirements with you, and ask you to prioritise the work.  We will also agree with you a limit to the amount of time that we can spend on your request. 

Email: staffordshire.record.office@staffordshire.gov.uk

Post: Staffordshire Record Office, Eastgate Street, Stafford, ST16 2LZ

Telephone: 01785 278379



How can I make best use of the research service?

Please read this web page in full before emailing about your research request.

Check in advance that the record office holds records relevant to your search. We may be able to advise you about sources that you were not aware of.

Request research one step at a time, rather than asking for ‘my family tree’. With each report you will be able to review the situation and make informed decisions about the next stage. Family history research should proceed logically, step by step, with supporting evidence, from the known to the unknown.



Advice when completing a research request form

Make your request clear and precise.

Include all relevant information known, for example names, dates, places, occupations. Indicate the source of your information and state whether dates are exact or approximate. A ‘family tree’ diagram can be helpful.

State which records you have already searched, even if the results were negative, e.g. International Genealogical Index (IGI), census returns, civil certificates of birth marriage and death, or which web site you have searched as information on them can vary. This will help prevent duplication of research, helping us to use your money effectively. Negative results and lateral thinking can often point the way to new avenues of research.



How long will the research take?

We will acknowledge receipt of your request within 5 working days and give you an estimate of the likely time the research will take. We normally aim to complete orders within 15 working days.

We have a backlog of orders (currently four weeks) caused by the Coronavirus lockdown.  Staff have now returned to the record office and are working to reduce the backlog. Staff will advise you of approximate waiting times when you place your order.

Requests for research are dealt with in order of receipt.



What does it cost?

Our standard hourly research fee is published on the fees and charges page. The fee includes all the work involved in planning and carrying out the research, as well as the report writing and notification of costs.

Please do not send money in advance, as partial refunds cannot normally be made. We will notify you of the fee when the research and report have been completed.

We do require payment before your report can be sent out. As soon as full payment has been received, the report will be sent out by post or email as requested. Any copies will be sent by email unless paper copies are requested.



How can I control the cost?

Your request will be carried out as efficiently as possible in order to save time and money, but please specify a time limit.

If your budget limit is reached before the request has been completed, a report of the work so far will be sent to you. You may then review the situation regarding future research.

If you list several searches on the form, they will be dealt with in that order. It would also be helpful to know if you do not have an order of preference, as we may judge that the work may be completed more efficiently by working in an alternative order.



Can I have copies of records?

A transcript or index for an original document may exist, particularly for parish registers, although we are always conscious that these may contain errors. We will often use these first to speed up the research process, but we will always tell you in our report if we have used transcripts or indexes as a first stage.

Copies of relevant records are supplied whenever possible, as they are often cheaper than the time spent making a transcription.

The cost of the first four photocopies of documents is included within the charge for the first hour’s research. All subsequent photocopies of documents will be charged for at our standard rates, as set out on our Fees and Charges page.

The cost of providing transcripts or tracings is included within the charge for research time.



Expectations and limitations

Results cannot be predicted, and records may be missing, damaged, or difficult to decipher. Although positive results are pleasing for us as well as for you, there is no guarantee of success.

Be aware that even a lengthy search may still have a negative outcome. Charges still apply, even if the result is minimal or negative. However we always try to suggest further possible avenues for research for a future occasion.



Sources not available at Stafford

Stoke-on-Trent City Archives also offers a research service, which specialises particularly in family history sources relating to the City of Stoke-on-Trent and surrounding North Staffordshire.

Address: Stoke-on-Trent City Archives, City Central Library, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3RS

Telephone: 01782 238420

Email: stoke.archives@staffordshire.gov.uk

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