The Archive

Open Wednesday to Friday and second Saturday of each month (except Bank Holidays)
10:00 - 16:30
The Postal Museum, First Floor

The Archive is the place to come to delve deeper into the history of the postal service, and where you can study original archive material. You can also contact the Archive team using the email address on this page to ask questions and find out more about online archive resources.

A middle aged man wearing glasses sits at a glass desk, using a computer. One hand is on the mouse and the other sits next to the keyboard. He sits comfortably in a desk chair.
This written diary entry is at least 2 A4 pages long. The writing is small and cursive, so much so that you can't quite tell what the text says.
Study original material
Browse the reference library
Read past Staff Magazines
Over 700 maps from 1757-c.1990 - Showing circulation of mail, surveyors’ maps and a few town maps
Over 100,000 photographs, from the late 19th century to the modern day
Over 6,000 posters and some of the original poster artwork
Financial and administrative records, covering day-to-day running of the organisation
Establishment Books listing people employed by each department at a given time, from 1691 onwards
Appointment & pension records

FAQs

The Royal Mail Archive cares for the archive of Royal Mail Group plc, and Post Office Ltd. It is one of the oldest business archives in the world, and continues to collect and care for the records of the two businesses today.

Records in the Archive are Designated as being of outstanding national importance by the Arts Council, and are on the UNESCO memory of the World UK Register.

The majority of records held are public records and are available for anyone to see onsite, free-of-charge.

The records cover a huge range of business activities and are also a great source of social history. They include documents on postal innovations and designs, employment, transport, publicity, maps, buildings and uniforms, to name a few. The stamp collections include every British stamp issued from 1840 to the present day. The General Post Office (GPO) was one of the biggest employers in the UK and the Archive contains records that are invaluable for family history research.

We have two research guides:

  • Royal Mail Archive – Overview Guide (PDF)
    • This gives an overview of all the records we have in the Archive. The records are divided into POST classes, covering a wide range of subjects.
    • The guide explains what records are held in each POST class. It also has a subject index at the back.
  • Family History Research Guide (PDF)
    • This is a step-by-step guide to discovering your ancestors who worked for the Post Office in the past.
    • At the back there is a list of abbreviations used in the appointment and pension records.
    • For more information please see our family history page.

The guides are long, but you do not have to read every page! Just look at the first few pages to find out how to use each guide. They also are available in the museum’s Archive, along with the best guides of all – our staff. Please contact us if you have any questions.

We are happy to welcome groups to the Archive, but please contact us in advance to discuss your visit and to book, as we have limited research space.

Yes – please let us know in advance so we can arrange the space to support your needs by emailing [email protected] or by using the contact form below.

Contact

To book an appointment, or contact the Archive team, please use the contact form below or email us at: [email protected]

Send us your questions about the archive, family history or the collections, and we’ll do our best to help.

Please send us your questions about the archive, family history or the collections below, and we’ll do our best to help.
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The Postal Museum looks after over 400 years of postal heritage, including the archive of Royal Mail Group plc, and Post Office Ltd.