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Adding to Norfolk's archives


Do you have archives relating to Norfolk?

Would you like them to be preserved for future generations?

If you donate your documents to the Norfolk Record Office, we will keep them safe and make them accessible for everyone to enjoy.

The following pages explain what documents we accept and how to transfer them to our care.

Please contact us before bringing in documents or sending them to us. Once we have confirmed that we wish to accept them, you can send them to us, or arrange an appointment to bring them in.

What records do we accept?

We aim to reflect all aspects of Norfolk and its people by collecting documents of historical value.

This includes the following:

  • Records of Norfolk organisations, such as businesses, societies, charities, schools and churches of all religions and denominations
  • Records of Norfolk families and individuals (including diaries, correspondence and financial records)
  • Sound recordings (including oral history and radio broadcasts)
  • Records of local authorities
  • Records of public bodies (including hospitals, magistrates' courts and coroners)

We especially welcome records from groups which are under-represented in our collections (such as records of minority ethnic or marginalised groups).

Records suitable for preservation can include:

  • Volumes
  • Papers
  • Parchments
  • Maps
  • Architectural plans
  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Digitally-created documents

We accept records of any date. If you are unsure whether your records are suitable for permanent preservation, please ask us for advice. 

We do not normally accept printed material, duplicates, documents with no connection to Norfolk, family trees, research notes, objects and films.

We may, however, be able to suggest a suitable repository for such items.

There is no charge for transferring records to us, but we welcome donations to support our work.

Donation or deposit?

You can transfer documents to us by donation or on deposit.

Donation (or gift) means that ownership is granted to the NRO. 

Deposit (or loan) means that you retain ownership and that we hold the documents according to our general conditions for deposit of archives.

Our staff can discuss with you which is more appropriate.

However, donation is the most certain way of ensuring that your documents will be permanently preserved and available for research.

If you want to keep personal papers for the time being, but wish to safeguard them for the future, another option is to bequeath them to the NRO in your will.


Transferring records to us

Once you have decided whether to donate or deposit your records, contact us.

Provide us with the details of the records and an archivist can assess whether they are suitable for preserving at the NRO.

We will arrange an appointment with you to transfer the records if we decide to accept them.

Normally we ask people to bring documents to the NRO, but if this is not possible we may be able to collect them.

We may suggest that you deposit the records with us for an archivist to look through.

If you wish to donate or deposit records with us you will need to fill in our  Accession form (PDF) [73KB], which covers issues like ownership and copyright.  Guidance notes (PDF) [56KB] are available to help you complete it.

The form will be countersigned by a member of staff, to act as your receipt. 

It will also give your accession number: this is the unique reference which we use to identify the records until they have been fully catalogued.

We also have a  contents list spreadsheet (Excel doc) [36KB], with  guidance notes (PDF) [89KB], so you can provide descriptions of your records in a structured way. 


Sensitive or confidential information

Let us know if the documents contain sensitive or confidential information.

Public access can be restricted for a suitable period if this is the case.

We provide public access to records according to current legislation, including the Freedom of Information Act and the General Data Protection Regulation.

The latter controls access to - and the use of - sensitive information relating to living individuals.




Copyright and using the records

Copyright owners can either retain their copyright or assign it to the NRO.

In most cases we will supply copies of documents when they are requested for private research, or for educational and other non-commercial use, provided the condition of the original permits. 

Researchers are also allowed to take their own photographs in the searchroom after purchasing a photography permit.

People receiving or making copies sign a copyright declaration. They are also required not to publish documents or to supply further copies of them without consulting us.



Assessment and conservation

Archivists assess the physical condition of all new accessions.

We refer documents in poor condition to our conservators.

If an item is so fragile that continued handling could lead to information in it being lost, we will mark it 'unfit for production'.

This restricts access until conservation work can be carried out.


An archivist will catalogue the documents and add the descriptions to NROCAT, our online catalogue (opens new window).

We arrange each collection of documents by its archive creator and try to preserve the original order of the records where possible.

It is best, therefore, not to re-sort documents before transferring them to us.

If you already have a list of some or all of the documents this can be very useful, as can any information you have about the people or organisation which created the records.

Cataloguing may take some time to complete, owing to the quantity of records which we receive each year.

We normally aim to add a summary description of the records to NROCAT in the meantime.