Collections at Dorset History Centre
Dorset History Centre cares for, and provides access to, thousands of archive collections relating to Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole.
You can view documents by visiting the History Centre, or, you can usually buy a copy though our reprographics service. See our information for depositors if you have material you would like to transfer to the archives.
Parish registers and records
We hold the registers and various records for many of the parishes in Dorset.
Family and estate archives
A short guide to the family and estate archives held at Dorset History Centre
Audio and oral history
The History Centre collects any sound recording which relates to Dorset, is unique and of long term historical value. We currently hold around 500 hours of recordings, most of which are oral history.
Books and Pamphlets
The Dorset Local Studies Collection contains published books and pamphlets on a wide range of subjects including archaeology, topography, geology, natural history and Dorset trade and industry.
Dorset History Centre holds records for various kinds of businesses, including brewers, solicitors, architects and more. Our business archives include the internationally recognised ceramics firm Poole Pottery and Britain's first garden centre, Stewarts of Ferndown.
Court, prison and police records
Records of crime and punishment include those of the local courts, prisons and police force.
Dorset Authors Collection
A unique collection of works by authors and poets with a Dorset connection, including Thomas Hardy, William Barnes, John Fowles, Sir Frederick Treves, Sylvia Townsend Warner and the Powys brothers.
Electoral registers, which are compiled annually are a useful source for tracking individuals or families.
Local government and administration
Various authorities have been responsible for local administration in Dorset; the responsibilities of these authorities included poor relief, education, highways, the courts and building control.
Herrison Hospital (Dorset County Lunatic Asylum)
Dorset History Centre holds the records for Herrison Hospital, formerly Dorset County Lunatic Asylum.
Local clubs and societies
Dorset History Centre holds the records of clubs and societies based in Dorset.
An overview of the types of maps we hold, including ordnance survey maps, tithe maps and enclosure maps.
Newspapers on microfilm
The Dorset History Centre holds local newspapers, most of which are available to view on microfilm.
There are thousands of photographs at the Dorset History Centre, including studio portraits, postcards and aerial photographs.
Most Dorset schools kept records fairly systematically from the mid to late nineteenth century onwards. School records can be particularly illuminating for family and local history.
Probate records: wills, letters of administration and inventories