Dorset History Centre
|Dorset History Centre|
|Access and use|
|County Archivist||Sam Johnston|
|Phone number||01305 250550|
The Dorset History Centre brings together two services – the Dorset Record Office and Dorset County Local Studies Library. The centre is the archives service and local studies library for Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole.
Its collections comprise two main strands:
- Dorset Archives, unique records of the people, organisations and communities of Dorset from 965 AD to the present, and
- Dorset Local Studies, a collection of 15,000 books plus newspapers and other material about Dorset, its history, people and environment.
It is open to all, and is free of charge.
- Church records including baptisms, marriages and burials
- Wills containing information on the deceased and their families
- School records listing pupils and providing a picture of life in schools in the past
- Business records including brewing, solicitors, Poole Pottery and many other local Dorset industries
- Records of societies such as the Women's Institutes and Scouts
- Records of local administration from looking after the poor to maintaining roads and bridges.
- Hospital records including the county lunatic asylum
- Court records including gaol registers and lists of prisoners
- Family and Estate records including personal papers such as diaries and the records of tenants of the landed estates
- Maps and plans, including Ordnance Survey maps, tithe maps and architect's drawings
The Dorset Record Office was founded in 1955, based at County Hall in Dorchester. Its collections expanded considerably during the remainder of the decade, as it took custody of the archives formerly held at the County Museum in 1957, and became the Diocesan Record Office in 1959.
The Record Office was expanded in 1971 when a new search room was opened. In 1991, it moved to its current site when a new, purpose-built, office was opened on Bridport Road. In 2005 the County Local Studies Library was also moved in the same building, and the Record Office became the Dorset History Centre.
There have been three County Archivists: Margaret Holmes from 1955 to 1983, Hugh Jaques from 1983 to 2009 and Sam Johnston, who is the current County Archivist.
Visiting the centre
|Day||Time||Last document request|
All the public rooms at the Dorset History Centre, including the search room, are situated on the ground floor with level access from outside via automatic doors. There is also an accessible toilet at the centre and hearing loops are fitted at all the enquiry desks. In addition there are three disabled parking bays in the centre car park.