People are being encouraged to discover and explore County Durham’s history next week by delving into thousands of original records and documents.
Durham County Record Office is supporting national Explore Your Archives Week, which runs from 18 to 26 November, by reminding people of the amazing resources available to anyone who is interested in local and family history.
The archives held by the record office occupy five miles of shelving and span almost 900 years.
They relate not only to the current County Durham and Darlington areas but also the historic County of Durham before 1974, which covered the area between the River Tyne and the River Tees.
Members of the public can use the archives for a wide range of purposes, from researching family history and viewing plans of your house to accessing hospital or care records or investigating environmental issues.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: “Archives are our collective memory, offering a written record of people’s day to day lives. They provide unique access to our past but are also of huge relevance today.
“Durham County Record Office holds an extensive range of fascinating documents covering a wide range of subjects and a large geographical area.
“Explore Your Archives Week is the perfect time to discover the information that is so readily to hand.”
The oldest items in the record office’s collection date back to the beginning of the 12th Century but many of the documents are recent and are of relevance today.
Liz Bregazzi, county archivist, said: “People would be amazed by the breadth of enquiries the record office receives on a daily basis.
“The documents we hold can help people establish rights of way, prove their citizenship and even secure a school place.
“Only recently, we helped someone complete probate on a property, where the house deeds had been lost, by supplying information from the electoral register.
“And another member of the public came to us to research a war memorial and found a long lost family elsewhere in the country.”
For more information, visit www.durhamrecordoffice.org.uk. To make an appointment to visit the record office, call 3000 267 619.