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School records guide

Publications, photographs and pupils' work

School publications

The official school prospectus, magazine and newsletter can be valuable sources for researching the history of a particular institution.

They often give a broad variety of details including:

  • Lists of staff
  • Lists of pupils
  • Sports teams
  • Term dates
  • Building alterations
  • General information about the school’s culture

In some cases, they may contain contributions from the children themselves and many give information about the wider community.

They are also a useful source for pictures and photographs of the school.

For some schools there may also be unpublished histories, commemorative books produced for anniversaries, and programmes for sports days, concerts or other events.

School publications are usually listed with records of individual schools.


Photographs can help to build up a picture of the school and comparing them can provide evidence of changes over time, as well as documenting events and past pupils.

We hold a variety of school photographs and they are usually listed with records of individual schools.

The NHC also holds a substantial collection of photographs, which includes pictures of schools. Many of their photographs are available through the Picture Norfolk archive.

For further advice about using photographs as a source, see W B Stephens and R W Unwin, Materials for the Local and Regional History of Schooling, 1700-1900 (London, 1987).

Pupils’ work

It is less common to find surviving examples of pupils’ work than administrative records created by schools about their pupils.

However, where they survive, records of pupils’ work, such as exercise books, can help to give researchers a fuller picture of the school, enhancing knowledge about the curriculum and teaching methods.

We hold a variety of pupils’ work, which is usually listed with records of individual schools.

In other cases, individuals have deposited schoolwork in their possession, which is usually listed with their personal or family records.  ]

Please refer to the card index to school archives and the online catalogue.