Finding Your Ancestors at County Durham Record Office

View of Durham, 1913View of Durham, 1913: From 'Byzantine and Romanesque Architecture' by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson (1835-1924)

County Durham Record Office was established in 1961 and is located in County Hall, Durham City.  

The Office collects and preserves resources relating to the present county and Darlington and also the historic county of Durham between the Rivers Tyne and Tees that existed before local government was re-organised in 1974. 

The Office is the local authority archive service for County Durham and Darlington.

The Office's documents date from 1122 to the present day and are housed in environmentally-controlled strongrooms taking up over four miles of shelving. 

These resources can be accessed through their Search Room, and include parish registers, census returns, electoral registers, quarter sessions, newspapers and maps.

Whether you wish to trace your family history, discover more about the history of a house or learn more about your local community, you will find the resources held of use.

Contact Information for County Durham Record Office


Durham County Record Office
County Hall 

Telephone Number:

03000 267619



For more information regarding their collections, please visit their Resources page. They also have an on-line catalogue which has details of items held.  Printed transcripts and indexes are accessible in the microfilm room.

Opening Hours

You can also find out about their Opening Hours.

Advance Booking

Space is limited, so it is best to book in advance before visiting County Durham Record Office to avoid disappointment especially if travelling a long distance.  This is especially important if you wish to consult a map because you have to reserve a map table.  You also need to reserve a microfilm reader before you visit, but booking a microfiche reader is not necessary

Location and Directions

County Durham Record Office is located on the Lower Ground Floor of County Hall.  County Hall is well sign-posted on major routes into the city.  The postcode is DH1 5UL if using a Sat Nav.  They have a car park, but this can become very busy, making it hard to find a space at peak times.  Disabled parking spaces are available to the left of the public entrance.  If all these bays are occupied, you are asked to telephone 03000 268335 to seek assistance.

The Park and Ride Service also serves County Hall.

The Archive is approximately 10 minutes walk from Durham Railway Station.  Trains from London, Edinburgh and Newcastle go to Durham.  Many buses stop outside County Hall.


Disabled access to County Hall is available.  A ramp provides access to the building.  Once inside the building, access to the Office is provided via a lift.  If you require assistance, staff can help you to operate the lift.

A disabled toilet is also accessible.

If you are visually impaired, an IRIS video enlarger is provided, which can magnify, produce negative images, and show items in high contrast colours.


If using a laptop, power sockets are available alongside most tables and microfilm readers.  You are required to show them your computer open before you leave.

Free WI-FI is provided throughout the building.

Six computers are publicly accessible, which provide access to most websites.  You are able to print from the computers on payment of a small fee.


You are able to use a digital camera in Durham Archives, but restrictions apply, and they make a charge to people taking advantage of this service.  Some documents cannot be photographed because doing so could damage them.  Taking photographs of Ordnance Survey plans, microfilms, photographs, restricted access records, and tithe plans is also prohibited.


The Office has a canteen where you can purchase hot food, sandwiches and beverages.  If the canteen is closed, you may purchase food in Durham city centre. Vending machines are available, which are beside the help desk located at the public entrance.  Drinking water can be obtained from the water dispenser beside the vending machines.


The Archive has a shop where many publications and other items are available for sale, which include:

  • Cemeteries in County Durham
  • Durham Family History Gazetteer
  • Durham Places in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
  • Lost Mills - A History of Papermaking
  • Map: Fact and Folklore in County Durham
  • Map of Durham Parish and Chapelry Boundaries, c.1800
  • Map of the Bishoprick and Citie of Durham - 1611
  • Map of the Bishoprick of Durham - 1646/1652
  • Radical Politics in the North-East of England in the Later Eighteenth Century

Research Service

If you are unable to visit in person, they offer a research service.  They also provide an information leaflet and an application form which are both available in PDF Format.

Readers' Tickets

You do not need to obtain a CARN (County Archive Research Network) Card to visit the Office.

For further information regarding other Record Offices in the area, please visit my pages relating to Teesside Archives and Tyne and Wear Archives Service.

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