The Archive

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

The Archive’s Discovery Room 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 form on this page to ask questions and find out more about online archive resources.

Explore your family history in the Post Office
Explore your family history in the Post Office
Study original material
Study original material
Browse the reference library
Browse the reference library
Read past Staff Magazines
Read past Staff Magazines
The Discovery Room, the Archive’s reading room
The Discovery Room, the Archive’s reading room
Over 700 maps from 1757-c.1990 - Showing circulation of mail, surveyors’ maps and a few town maps
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 100,000 photographs, from the late 19th century to the modern day
Over 6,000 posters and some of the original poster artwork
Over 6,000 posters and some of the original poster artwork
Financial and administrative records, covering day-to-day running of the organisation
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
Establishment Books listing people employed by each department at a given time, from 1691 onwards
Appointment & pension records
Appointment & pension records

What to expect

In the Discovery Room you can:

  • Explore your family history using our records and Ancestry online
  • Study original material from The Royal Mail Archive in the Discovery Room, the Archive’s reading room (two forms of ID required)
  • Browse our reference library
  • View microfilm copies of archival material
  • Search our catalogue and other digital resources
  • Look at staff magazines, Post Office Circulars, photograph and poster albums

 

  • Study original material

    Drop in and browse the reference area, or if you want to consult original archive material, a little preparation will make your visit easier.

    Read more
  • Archive facilities

    Information for visitors on general facilities, lockers, computer and internet access, copying and photography in the Discovery Room.

    Read more
  • Family history

    The Postal Museum is the definitive place to find out about past postal employees.

    Read more
  • Research from home

    We understand visiting in person isn’t always possible, and we will do our best to answer your questions and suggest online resources.

    Read more

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 Discovery Room, along with the best guides of all – our staff. Please contact us if you have any questions.

We are not able to welcome groups to the Discovery Room, and are only able to accommodate three researchers at a time.

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.

No, but visitors are welcome to wear one if they wish and we recommend wearing a mask in indoor, enclosed spaces.

Contact

To book an appointment, or contact the Archive team, please use the contact form below:

Privacy information

The information you provide us with will be used to answer your enquiry. We will keep your information secure and will delete it in line with our retention procedures. We won’t share your information with any third party for their own marketing purposes. Please see our Privacy Policy for further details about our processing and your rights or email [email protected]


The Postal Museum looks after over 400 years of postal heritage, including the archive of Royal Mail Group plc, and Post Office Ltd.