Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does 'Gateway to the Past' hold catalogues of all of your collections?

A: Many, but not all, of our collections are listed in detail here. For some collections there is just a Collection description, indicating what the collection contains. Some collection catalogues are available on the National Archives' "Discovery" resource. Some collection catalogues are not yet online. We are working constantly to add more catalogues to 'Gateway to the Past'. Please contact us if you are unable to find what you are looking for (see links at the bottom of this page).

Q: How can I see original documents that I find in 'Gateway to the Past'?

A: If there are no restrictions on access (which should be noted in the catalogue) you are welcome to visit us to look at the records. See the Planning a Visit section of the Archive Service's main website for further details.

Q: Why might some documents have restricted access?

A: The Data Protection Act restricts access to sensitive personal information about living people. If you wish to see documents with restricted access, please contact us and we will advise you further.

Q: Why are some documents available only with 24 hours or two working days notice?

A: For conservation reasons, most of our photographic collections are held in particularly cool conditions, and need to acclimatise in a "halfway-house" overnight before they can be used in the searchroom. Archive collections housed in our Stafford out-store require two days notice for production in order to ensure that the necessary staffing resources are available to bring the documents to Staffordshire Record Office reading room.

Q: How can I obtain copies of documents I find in 'Gateway to the Past'?

A: Each of our record offices offers a photocopying and photography service. Please see our website for further details.

Q: Is the catalogue useful for family history research?

A: It can be, but we would suggest that you use some other resources first. Our commercial partner FindMyPast has Staffordshire parish registers 1538-1900, Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry wills 1520-1858, and Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry marriage bonds 1636-1893. Our Staffordshire Name Indexes website has a range of indexes, including prisoners, apprentices, police officers, etc. For Guides to Sources, such as parish registers, nonconformist registers, electoral registers, etc., please see our main website.

Q: How can I see museum objects that I find in 'Gateway to the Past'?

A: Most of the museum objects are not on general public display. If you are interested in a particular object please contact the County Museum for further information. You may also find images of objects on our Staffordshire Pasttrack website.

If our FAQs do not answer your question you can contact us at:

Staffordshire Record Office

Stoke on Trent City Archives

William Salt Library

Staffordshire County Museum

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