An Introduction to Archives, Heritage and Photography
The Library is home to an internationally significant collection of archives, photographs and rare books. There are millions of individual items in the collections, dating from the 12th century to the present day. These are stored in environmentally-controlled conditions and there are lots of ways to explore and enjoy these collections.
Study and Research
The Library welcomes students and researchers of all ages from complete beginners to experienced academics and whether your research is for personal enjoyment, formal learning or work.
The Heritage Research Area offers you access to genealogical sources such as parish registers, census records and birth, marriage and death indexes using the microform readers on floor 4. You can research Birmingham’s local history, view and print copies of old newspapers and access historical and modern maps. Please check the Birmingham Libraries online catalogue, but also please note that the Birmingham Local Studies catalogue for earlier records is held on floor 4.
Library members can also enjoy free access to specialist websites including Ancestry to help further with research.
The Wolfson Centre for Archival Research (archives search room) provides a light, welcoming environment to view our archival collections. Related published materials are also available to help with your research.
The online Archival Catalogue allows you to search listings and find information from more than 1,500 collections, including religious, official, private and public records relating to Birmingham.
Please check the Archival Catalogue for catalogue references to order in advance of your visit. Currently we are unable to serve on demand. Also, be aware not all listings of records are available online and other catalogues are only available in the search room.
We normally need at least 3 to 4 days’ notice to provide an appointment slot for you. Also, please note that we may not be able to give you direct access to some items, for example because they are too fragile or for data protection reasons.
Librarians and Archivists are on hand to point you in the right direction and help you pursue your research, whether for formal learning or personal enjoyment.
Other specialist websites supported by the Library of Birmingham include Connecting Histories www.connectinghistories.org.uk, which documents the changing face of Birmingham’s culture and population, and Digital Handsworth www.digitalhandsworth.org.uk, which covers much of north Birmingham.
Did you know...? Our free mobile app, Dozens & Trails, is a great way to start exploring the Library’s collections and services.
The Library of Birmingham is a centre of activity for seeing, studying and exchanging knowledge about historical and contemporary photography. The Photography Collection is of national and international significance.
If you are interested in discovering the rich and varied history of the city and planning a visit, please click on this link to the Birmingham Heritage Forum, where you can explore further and download an accompanying leaflet.