A wet grey day today with a top of 5 degrees made for a chilly walk to the London Metropolitan Archives located in central London. I arrived early but Laura Taylor, Senior Archivist was happy to see me and eager to show me around. It was clear that she is passionate about the archival profession and industry in which she works.
LMA have an excellent website. Like a lot of research venues, it is a good idea to visit LMA’s website prior to any personal visit, to assess what kind of records are available and actually available for public access, as some may be closed e.g. adoption records. Some records may also have been digitised and will be available on line. LMA have partnered with Ancestry.com to provide access to Parish records for example.
This is an archive of the City of London, under the auspices of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Libraries (as is Guildhall Library). It is the largest local authority archive in the UK with over 100 km of research collections that document the capital’s history from 1067 to present day. It is home to an extraordinary range of documents, images, maps, film and books about London and offers a wide selection of talks, guided tours, film screenings, exhibitions and other events.
The main floor which researchers access is inviting, spacious, well lit and well laid out. A history card is required to request strongroom items – that is original records. An identification is necessary to apply for this. Records may be requested throughout the day for delivery usually within 20 minutes. A separate glassed off room is made available to securely access these items.
Collage is the online resource for London’s history, topography and people from the 15th century to the present day. High quality colour prints and digital files can be purchased.
Over two million photographs, prints, posters and maps of London from the 16th century to the present day can be found here. The film and video collections include a wide range of subjects from marketing for new housing estates to public information films about London’s parks and gardens.
MEDIATHEQUE is a specialist research area for images, maps and films. Some films can be viewed on the Archive’s channel on You Tube.
A bank of computers provide access to the Archives catalogue, as well as access to Ancestry and limited licences to Find My Past. A physical catalogue of the archives takes up a small multi shelf area. Folders describe records on minutes, Parish records, hospitals, London local authority, associations, businesses, charities, courts, Jewish organisations, families, individuals and more. Some records can be accessed on microfilm.
Near the entrance/exit is a small exhibition space currently displaying “Frozen London 1683-1895”, sometimes referred to as the little Ice Age. The exhibition explores the impact some of the most severe winters ever recorded in London have had on its residents at this time. Events are promoted via a free council guide.
A small area for book sales is located near a bank of pigeon holes providing information leaflets on a vast array of subjects related to the collection. These are also available online and are regularly updated. A terrific resource alone if you have London ancestors.
Explore the public catalogue online