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Using Hull History Centre: Searchroom

Guide to how to use the facilities at Hull History Centre including the Local Studies Library, Searchroom, online catalogue, copying and referencing, and the Arcade.

What is the Searchroom?

The Searchroom is the space where researchers can access Hull History Centre's archival collections in person.

It contains various finding aids and reference resources to help you identify and understand the archival collections held at the History Centre.

It is a quiet work space, which can be quite cold so researchers beware and bring a jumper. Sockets are available to charge laptops etc., and book rests and weights are provided to help researchers to handle documents safely.

Requesting Archival Material

In order to protect them from loss or damage, archives are not kept on open access shelving.

To request archival material, you must use the various finding aids outlined on this page to identify relevant items and to discover their reference numbers.

Items can then be requested in the following way:

  • Complete a document request slip in the Searchroom
  • Place the document request slip in the collection tray on the Searchroom staff desk
  • Wait for the next timed retrieval (staff retrieve items from the strongrooms every half an hour)
  • Staff will bring requested items to your table

Staff are always on hand to help you identify material and complete request slips, and up to five requests can be made per retrieval.

Online Finding Aids

Various online resources exist to help you identify archival material held at Hull History Centre.

The History Centre's online catalogue is the main way into the collections. See the Online Catalogue page of this guide for more information about undertaking effective searches.

If you are not sure what you are looking for, and wish to browse rather than search, try exploring the SkillsGuide Archive Collections at Hull History Centre, which allows you to browse Hull History Centre's collections by theme, creator and document type.

Some people find using Archives Hub helpful when searching for material. The Archives Hub is an online portal containing descriptions of collections held by universities and other institutions across the UK. It includes collections held by Hull University Archives at Hull History Centre, but does not include collections held by Hull City Archives and Local Studies Library at Hull History Centre.

Using the Names Index

If you are looking for individuals, there is a surnames card index.

This index relates to the Hull City Council's official records. It includes references to witnesses and accused persons in court cases, committee membership and office holders, parties involved in land transactions, and trustees of local authority charities and trusts.

The index is a great place to look for local people, however, it is not exhaustive. Also, it does not cover individuals mentioned in collections deposited by local societies and businesses, or in the collections managed by the Hull University Archives.

Using the Historic Map Collection

In addition to the Local Studies map collection, the History Centre has a set of local historic maps.

These maps are available on open access in map cabinet drawers in the Searchroom. A key outlining what can be found in each of the drawers is located on top of the cabinet.

The historic map collection includes: WWI bomb damage maps of Hull; WWII bomb damage maps of Hull; maps and plans depicting Hull from the 14th century to the 20th century; mid-20th century aerial photographic maps of Hull; ward and parish boundary maps of Hull.

Further maps exist within individual archive collections. These can be searched for using the finding aids outlined on this page and must be requested for collection from the strong rooms. The records created by landed families and estates often contain maps and plans, as do the records created by railway and transport companies, the Council and it's various committees.

Using the Street Index

If you are looking for records relating to local streets and buildings, there is a street card index.

This index relates to key record series deposited by the local Council. Records include: building regulation plans from the late 1800s; WWII Air Raid Precaution files, and Housing Department photographs.

The index is a great place to start if you are researching the history of a local street or building, however, it is not exhaustive. Also, it does not include records created by local societies, organisations and businesses, nor does it include collections managed by Hull University Archives.

Other Resources

In addition to providing access to archival material, the Searchroom also contains some useful reference material.

The following resources are available on open access for researchers to help themselves.

  • Trade directories, which allow you to trace residents at properties in Hull, and which provide you with the occupation of property residents
  • Phone books, which allow you to trace residents at properties in Hull
  • Modern electoral registers, which allow you to trace residents at properties in Hull
  • Council minutes, which allow you to look at Council decisions and business discussed by Council committees
  • Background book collection, which allow you to supplement your primary source research relating to specific collections and archival skills such as palaeography