About Us

Barnsley Archives was founded in 1986 and was first located in the old Central Library building on Shambles Street, Barnsley. It opened its doors to the public in April 1987. Later it merged with the Local Studies Library in 1998 to form Barnsley Archives and Local Studies. In 2013 the service relocated to the Town Hall to become part of the new Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre. We were honoured to be awarded ARA Recordkeeping Service of the Year in 2022 by public vote.

The service collects, preserves and makes available the documentary heritage of the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley. Contained in secure and environmentally-controlled stores are thousands of boxes of archives donated by individuals, families and organisations, charting the history of the borough from the 12th to 21st centuries.

Explore hundreds of years of intriguing documents, photographs, maps and films. Shelves and shelves of fascinating books to browse means there’s something for everyone.

We can help you start growing your family tree. Discover the history of your area. Need to find something out about Barnsley now? This is the place to do it.

Have fun exploring these fascinating collections and uncovering your local heritage!

What are archives?

Archives are records made or received by an individual or organisation, and saved because of their historical value. They are primary sources, the raw material of history, unique and irreplaceable. Coming in many forms, shapes and sizes - individual documents, files, volumes, tapes, microfilms, emails, cine films, CDs, photographs, maps, plans and electronic documents - they help us to understand how an area developed and how our ancestors lived.

Types of records in our collections include:

  • Business records
  • Local authority records
  • Parish council records
  • Family & estate records
  • Group & society records
  • Hospital & healthcare records
  • Maps & plans
  • Sound and film recordings
  • Poll books & electoral registers
  • School & education records
  • Methodist & nonconformist records
  • Police records
  • Motor vehicle licensing records
  • Cemetery records

What is Local Studies?

The archive collections are complimented by the local studies collections. This is secondary (published) material that relates to the borough, and has been collected by Barnsley Libraries for over 120 years. Many of our local studies resources are available on an open access basis in our searchroom.

Our material includes:

  • Books and pamphlets
  • Maps & plans
  • Newspapers & newscuttings
  • Periodicals, journals & magazines
  • Aerial photography
  • Street, trade & telephone directories
  • Copies of Church of England parish records on microfiche
  • Indexes to cemeteries and crematorium
  • Parish magazines
  • Indexes of births, marriages & deaths
  • Copies of census returns