Documenting our Past

Where would we find documents from the past?

As well as learning about the past from objects, we can learn about the past – and particularly about people from the past - through documents.

In Hull we are building the Hull History Centre, a state of the art archive and local studies library 'in one', where people can research the past through documents. The Hull History Centre will enable staff to preserve its documents and collections for future generations. There will be an archive and local studies library in your region too, see if you can find out where they are!

The Hull History Centre will be home to nearly 7 km of records - if they were lined up they would stretch across the Humber Bridge four times! Some records are from as far back as 1090, including the 1299 Royal Charter which marks the birth of Hull as an important port.

Hull History Centre is a partnership between Hull City Archives and Local Studies Library and the University of Hull, and celebrates Hull’s heritage.


What are Archives and Local Studies Libraries?

hold collections of important documents from the past. If a museum is a home for objects, then an archive is a home for written or printed information.

What might be recorded and held at an archive?

  • Court records of trials
  • Hospital records
  • Records of local businesses
  • Church Records
  • School Records
  • Council Meeting Minutes

Archives and Local Studies Libraries often have some similar types of documents. They might both have:

  • Maps of the local area from different times
  • Photographs of the local area from different times
  • Copies of a Census
  • Birth, Death and Marriage records
  • War records (Crimean, WW1 and WW2 for example)

Local Studies Libraries might also have:

  • Letters
  • Books and reports
  • Videos/DVDs
  • Newspapers
  • Trade Directories
  • Posters and Leaflets
  • Diaries
  • War Records

You may have important documents from the past in your home which could one day be collected by an archive. What might you have?

Document icon Learning article provided by: Hull History Centre | 
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