Portsmouth History Centre

Town Hall, Portsmouth. c. 1890-1900Town Hall, Portsmouth. c. 1890-1900. Photocrom Print Collection

Portsmouth History Centre is situated on the second floor of Portsmouth Central Library.  

Records include resources regarding family, local and naval history, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens collections and official records of Portsmouth City Council dating from the 14th century.

Resources also include parish registers dating from the 16th century and materials deposited by local businesses, families and other organisations. They also have maps and plans, photographs and picture postcards.  

Whether you are tracing your family history, researching the history of your local area, studying the history of a house, or conducting research for a school, college, or university assignment, you will find the documents held of use. 

The resources are also of use to people wishing to discover more about the naval history of the area and Portsmouth's connection to Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. 

The knowledgeable and helpful staff are always on hand to help should you have any questions or require assistance.

If you have any documents relating to the history of Portsmouth you wish to donate to the Archive to safeguard them for present and future generations and to make them publicly accessible, they would love to hear form you.

Contact Information regarding Portsmouth History Centre


Portsmouth History Centre 
Norrish Central Library 
Guildhall Square 


023 9268 8046 




For details of their opening hours and their collections, please visit the appropriate sections of their Home Page and discover more about their resources.  Parish records for the Diocese of Portsmouth are accessible on microfiche along with cemetery burial indexes.  Other collections available in the Office include:

  • Apprenticeship Records Index 1654-1797
  • Board of Guardians Minute Books
  • Cemetery Records
  • Civil Defence Records WW2
  • Creed Registers 1879-1953
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  • Naval Journals
  • Nonconformist Registers
  • Police Staff and Administration Records
  • Portsmouth City Council Records from the 14th Century
  • Quarter Sessions Records 1670-1882
  • Rate Books
  • School Records
  • Ship Crew Lists 1857-1913 (Registered at Portsmouth and Cowes, Isle of Wight)
  • Tithe Maps
  • Vehicle Registration Records
  • Wills

Business records held by the Office include Chilcot and Williams Ltd, British Gas (Southern), Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company, Portsmouth Water Company and Whitbreads including Brickwoods, Pike Spicer and Co, Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries.

Many books and other items are available in their local history collection, which include:

  • Army, Navy and Air Force Lists
  • Census Returns
  • Clergy Lists
  • Coroners' Records
  • Council Minutes
  • Directories
  • Domesday Book
  • Electoral Registers
  • Genealogical periodicals
  • Heraldry, peerage and Coats of Arms
  • Maps
  • Newspapers
  • Place and personal names

Some of these resources relate to the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and West Sussex.

Location and Directions


Many documents are stored off-site so must be ordered in advance and take up to 5 working days to be delivered to the Archive.  If the document you wish to consult is available in the Office, you do not need to give advance notice to consult it. Some documents are not publicly accessible because of data protection laws or because they are fragile.

It is prudent to book a microfilm reader or genealogy computer before visiting in order to avoid disappointment, especially if you have travelled some distance.


You are allowed to take photographs of certain documents, but you must ask the permission of the staff before taking a photograph because some documents are not able to be photographed because they are fragile and easily damaged.  You are also required to obtain a photography permit, for which a charge is made.


The building is fully accessible, with a lift allowing access to the second floor.  Disabled toilets are also available.


A cafe is located on the third floor of the library and serves light lunches, snacks and homemade cakes.  Cold drinks, tea and coffee are also available.

Research Service

If you are unable to visit in person, the Office offers a research service, in which, for a fee, they conduct research on your behalf.

Readers' Tickets

Portsmouth Archives is a member of the CARN (County Archive Research Network).

Please also view my pages regarding Hampshire Record Office and Southampton City Archives.

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