Records research service



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.

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?

Use our research request form. This is can be obtained by:


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 Information Leaflet in full before completing the research request form.

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.

Complete all sections of the form (and make a copy of your request for your own reference).



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 aim to complete orders within 15 working days. However this is a very popular service and delays can occur at busy times.

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


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