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History, governance and policies

The history of the archive service, our policies and the oversight of the Joint Archives Service.


The Dorset Record Office was founded in 1955, originally based at County Hall in Dorchester. The collections expanded considerably and in 1991 the Record Office moved to a purpose-built building with environmentally controlled strong rooms on Bridport Road.

From 1997 the Record Office has operated as a joint service for  Bournemouth Borough Council (opens in a new window), the Borough of Poole (opens in a new window) and Dorset County Council.

In 2005 the County Local Studies Library was moved to the Record Office which was then renamed Dorset History Centre.


Joint Archives Agreement

The Joint Archives Service for Dorset was created as a result of an agreement between Bournemouth Borough Council (opens in a new window)Dorset County Council and the Borough of Poole (opens in a new window) at the time of local government reorganisation in 1997.

In setting up the Joint Archives Service, the three councils recognised the importance of keeping the county's historic archives together in one place, so avoiding the de-aggregation of the collections along geographical lines.

In addition, the financial benefit achieved through maintaining a single service rather than three separate ones was a significant factor in ensuring a single pan-Dorset service endured.

Joint Archives Advisory Board

Governance of the Joint Archives Service is delivered through the Joint Archives Advisory Board (JAAB). The Board is made up of eight elected members, (four from Dorset and two each from Bournemouth and Poole). It meets two or three times annually.

To view more information about the JAAB, see Dorset County Council's committee pages (opens in a new window).

Service Plan

The Service Plan provides an up to date record of the Joint Archives Service's current workstreams and their anticipated outcomes together with a range of other information about the service.


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