Our collections

Search our online catalogue

Our online catalogue contains 300,000 entries describing the archive collections held at Bristol Archives. It does not yet contain information about all collections, although we have an ongoing cataloguing programme.

Search our online catalogue.

Some catalogues are currently only available via the Access to Archives website. We are in the process of transferring these to our own catalogue.

The catalogue mainly provides information about our collections, rather than views of archival material. If you would like to consult any documents, please note the relevant RefNos and either visit us or contact us to see if you can order a copy.

About our collections

Our collections reflect many different aspects of Bristol’s history.

  • Official records: records of the city of Bristol from medieval times to the present day, as well as other bodies such as the local Board of Health, Board of Guardians and school boards.
  • Public records: including Quarter and Petty Sessions, the County Court, the coroner, prisons, police and hospitals, as well as local shipping registers and crew lists.
  • Records of the Diocese of Bristol: including wills, Bishop’s transcripts, faculty papers, records of ordination, estate records and tithe maps.
  • Parish registers and records: these include registers of baptisms, marriages and burials for the Archdeaconry of Bristol, records of the Overseers of the Poor and churchwarden’s accounts.
  • Local organisations, institutions and charities including the Society of Merchant Venturers, trades unions, Arnolfini and Bristol Rugby Football Club.
  • Bristol businesses such as the Bristol Omnibus Company, J S Fry & Sons and Elizabeth Shaw (confectioners), John Harvey & Sons (wine merchants), W D & H O Wills (tobacco manufacturers), J W Arrowsmith (printers and publishers) and Bristol Water.
  • Records of estates, families and individuals associated with Bristol and its history: these range from the archives of the Smyth family of Ashton Court to diaries and letters written by Bristol residents.
  • Maps, ranging from early city plans to modern Ordnance Survey maps. Some of these can be accessed online on the Know Your Place website.
  • Illustrations and photographs of Bristol, including the extensive Vaughan postcard collection.

Find out about our Searchroom, which you can come and visit to research the collections.

Records relating to South Gloucestershire

Due to historic boundary changes, records for places now in South Gloucestershire may be held at either Gloucestershire Archives or Bristol Archives.

In general, Bristol Archives holds the main ecclesiastical records for parishes currently in South Gloucestershire but not necessarily other types of records. We also hold records for some parishes which were previously in Gloucestershire but later became part of Bristol.