How to find your ancestors at Durham County Record Office
Discover how to find Durham ancestors using the many family history resources at Durham County Record Office.
Durham County Record Office, located near the centre of Durham, holds records covering almost 900 years of history, for the present County Durham and Darlington, and the pre-1974 county of Durham between the rivers Tyne and Tees.
The archives occupy five miles of shelving and are made available for study and research in the search room, where visitors can consult all of the most popular family history sources on microfilm, including Church of England parish registers, non-conformist parish registers, census returns, electoral registers, hearth tax returns and newspapers.
Durham County Record Office has a wide range of archive collections which cannot be found elsewhere. The Barrington Registers are a collection of baptism and burial registers covering the years 1798 to 1812, which are of particular value to family history researchers as they contain more information than many registers, including maiden name and place of origin for the mother named on a baptism register, and parentage and occupation of the deceased in burial register entries.
Another well-used collection is the archives of the Durham Light Infantry, which includes 40,000 photographs viewable online plus many more still to be digitised but searchable by name. This extensive regimental archive is on loan from the trustees of the former DLI Regiment, and includes oral histories, war diaries, enlistment books and discharge books.
The Mining Durham’s Hidden Depths collection is the result of a recent project whereby 100 volunteers indexed records in the Durham Miners' Association trade union archive, held at the Record Office. The indexes are a name-rich resource with more than 200,000 individuals recorded in the database.
Using Durham County Record Office for family history research
The Record Office has six public access PCs which offer free access to Ancestry and Find My Past, and the Durham County Record Office website which includes online indexes to registrars’ birth, marriage and death certificates.
A research service is available for anyone unable to visit the Record Office in person. The charge is £32 for an hour of professional research, with extra hours and half-hours available thereafter. The charge includes standard copies of any relevant information discovered during the search.
The quick search service costs £5 for a brief search for a single entry in one document. This cost also includes a copy of the search results. For more information on both services, visit the website.
Visiting Durham County Record Office
Visitors are advised to make an appointment to view microfilms or original documents, to ensure that a table is reserved. To make a booking, tel 03000 267 619 or use the online booking system.
You can consult the online catalogue before your visit. Each catalogue entry includes the reference number you will need to quote to see the relevant record at the Record Office.
Durham County Record Office now has an online shop which helps family historians to order and pay for Quick Search and Research Service online.
Open: Mon & Tue: 8.45am to 4.45pm, Weds: 8.45am to 8pm. (Closed bank holidays and for two weeks between Christmas and New Year.
NB The two attached photographs are of early picture postcards (printed around 1905-1910) with unusual views of Durham City. These are taken from a recent donation, the David Williams Postcard Collection, one of a number of large photographic collections that can be viewed online, and copies can be purchased.