The Archive

Opening times
Wednesday to Friday 10:30 - 16:30
2nd Saturday of each month 10:30 - 16:30
(except Bank Holidays)
The Postal Museum, First Floor

Visit the Archive

  • You are welcome to drop in and browse the reference area. To look at original archive documents, we recommend you book an appointment and order the documents at least a day in advance. You can do this when you register and then sign in to The Postal Museum Catalogue, or using the contact form below.
  • If booking, please indicate whether you would like a morning, afternoon or all day session.
  • Please also indicate if you wish to consult museum objects or philatelic material, such as stamps.
  • You can order a maximum of 10 items per day.
  • You’re allowed to use your own smartphone / camera to take photographs, but flash is not permitted.
  • We may not be able to produce certain material due to access restrictions, condition, and size, but will advise you of this if it applies to your material before the appointment is confirmed.
  • If you need advice on identifying which records to order, or help with your booking, please contact the Archive team using the form below.

When you arrive

  • We’ll check your name on our list of researchers for the day. You will then be assigned a table number and locker. Please have your User Card ready for inspection. If you are a new user, you will go to the reception desk to be issued with a User Card.
  • You can leave your bag and coat in your assigned locker in the Discovery Room, removing any items that you may need during your visit (laptop/phone/pencil/paper).
  • You can use the ground floor toilets at any point during your visit. Please wash your hands thoroughly before entering the room and throughout your visit.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available throughout the building. Please wait until your hands are dry before touching any items.

Register & book

  • Please complete the application form  and send a signed scanned copy to us, or bring with you when you first visit.
  • We will ask for proof of ID to issue you with a Discovery Room User Card.
  • Register on our collections catalogue, so you can save items ahead of your visit (no ID or form required).
  • Sessions are offered on a first come, first served basis.
  • To complete a booking, you’ll need to identify the exact Finding Numbers of the documents (and related material) you wish to consult – up to a maximum number of  10 items.
  • If you are unable to use your booked session, please let us know as soon as possible.

To book an appointment, or contact the Archive team, please select ‘Archive, family history and collections enquiries’ under ‘What is your enquiry about?’ from the contact form below:

Viewing items

  • Your documents (and any related material) will be waiting for you on a trolley beside your designated table. Please consult them one at a time and put them carefully back on the trolley when you’ve finished with each one.
  • Document supports and weights are available. Please take these to your desk and leave them on your assigned trolley at the end of the day. Please do not use any space other than what you have been assigned.
  • Please handle documents with care and respect throughout your visit. Staff are invigilating for the safety of researchers and documents.

Research from home

If you can’t visit the museum, we want to make the archive as accessible as possible.

Distance Research

The online catalogue is the first place to start; it’s a great resource with hundreds of documents and files detailing much of what is in the physical archive. Visit the catalogue.

Distance Research

We cannot undertake research on your behalf, however there are independent researchers who can do the work for you. The National Archives have a guide on finding a researcher.

Distance Copying

The Postal Museum has its own digitisation studio providing high-quality digital images.

The archive also provides research quality images at: £10 for the first 10 images + 50p per image after that + VAT. It may not be possible to copy some items because of their condition, or for other reasons. A timescale for large orders will need to be agreed due to limited staff resources for copying.

If you require any copies of material please contact [email protected]

Family History Research

Some of the work researching the employment history of your ancestors can be done online, through Ancestry. Find out more about researching Family History.

FAQs

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]

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