Services Frequently Asked Questions

A series of frequently asked questions about the services offered by the Parliamentary Archives.

Yes, we do, but the fire of 1834 which destroyed the old Palace of Westminster also destroyed all the records of the House of Commons before that date, except for the journals (or minutes) of the House. The records of the House of Lords survived and date from 1497.

What's in the Parliamentary Archives?

No. You should contact The National Archives (formerly known as the Public Record Office).

Yes. We are usually open to any member of the public, from Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 4.00pm. Please contact us to make an appointment as you will not be admitted without one. See Planning Your Visit for further details of opening hours and other practical information.

Our searchroom is in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. See Planning Your Visit for a map of our location and further information about which entrance to come to.

No, we are open all year round apart from public holidays and two weeks stocktaking each November. See Planning Your Visit for further details.

You need to carry photographic identification. You do not need a letter of introduction. Please make an appointment to guarantee your seat, or you will not be admitted. See Planning Your Visit for further details of admission requirements.

Yes. Our online catalogue Portcullis contains around 3 million descriptions of our records.

No. The catalogue contains descriptions which help you order the records you want to look at, not the records themselves.

Some historic published Parliamentary material has been digitised and may be available on the Internet. See our Guide to historic digitised Parliamentary material.

If you have access to a large research library such as a university library it is likely to hold hard copies of historic published Parliamentary material such as Acts of Parliament, Hansard (Parliamentary Debates) and Sessional Papers (Parliamentary Papers) - search their catalogue or consult a librarian there. The British Library also has an excellent Official Publications collection, including Parliamentary Papers.

There are significant collections of Parliamentary Papers in the USA for American users: the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library; the Universities of Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Brown, Princeton, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth College, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Cornell. Also see I want...a Parliamentary Paper.

We can provide general advice and searches on the records of topics you are interested in, but we do not have the staff resources to do detailed or lengthy research for you. If you cannot come to London in person, you might consider employing a professional researcher to help you. We cannot provide individual names but The National Archives maintains a list of independent researchers.

Yes. Please e-mail us with details of the records you want copied, for which we will provide a quote. Once we receive payment from you, the records will be sent. See our Reprographic Services page for more details.

Yes. We can do this by e-mail if the image is not too large, or on CD, or via an online file transfer service. See our Reprographic Services page for more details.

You will need to get our permission and to pay for a publication licence (as well as for the image itself). See our Reprographic Services page for more details.

We accept payments by credit card and debit card via Paypal. You do not need a PayPal account to pay this way, just a credit or debit card. Please let us know if you would like to pay in this way when you confirm your order. Please do not send us your card details in an email - we will send you a confidential and secure request with a link to pay online via e-mail once we have processed your order.

We can also accept BACS payments, please let us know if you would like to pay in this way when you confirm your order. However please note we are unable to send copying orders out until we have confirmation from our Finance department that the BACS payment has been received.

Yes. There are sockets for laptops built into the searchroom desks. Remember to bring your adaptor with you if you are visiting from overseas. We also offer free wireless internet access  via your laptop.

Yes, you can use a digital camera without flash at the discretion of the searchroom supervisor. A fee of £7.50 per day is charged for this. For further details please see our statement on Use of personal technology devices for copying records in the Parliamentary Archives.

Hand held scanners and any other light-emitting device are NOT permitted because of the damage they cause to documents.

For a full explanation see Citation, Copyright and Use.

It is not appropriate to cite individual authors or publication dates for the webpages under Parliament's Living Heritage history section. These webpages should be referenced with the page title, URL and date you accessed them, e.g.

The 1870 Education Act [ Accessed 5 January 2015]

Please see Information about the Parliamentary Archives for the Media FAQs.

Please see Digital Preservation in Parliament FAQs.

Archivist and records management posts are advertised in the professional press and on the Parliament website. See Job Opportunities at the Parliamentary Archives for details of volunteering possibilities.

Archives Enquiry Services

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