Latest Archive News

Re-opening of Kendal Archives: Important changes to access and your feedback required

Kendal Archive Centre re-opened on 5 March 2019 following closure in May 2018 to create new user and archive accommodation. We are now open for 4 days a week between 10am and 4pm, Tuesdays to Fridays.

Please note you will need to make an appointment to visit. Researchers will need to identify the documents they wish to see in advance of a visit, giving at least one week's notice. Details of how to make an appointment and order documents.

Our popular family history sources, including microfilms of parish and non-conformist registers and wills, have been located at Kendal Library since May 2018. They continue to be available for 6 days a week including Wednesday evenings and Saturdays.

We welcome feedback on these changes to enable us to amend and improve the service if we are able. We intend to review the changes at Kendal in September 2019 and March 2020. You can give us your comments by contacting Kendal Archive Centre, by leaving a comments card at any of our Archive Centres or by using our feedback form to contact the Senior Archivist. 

Planned construction works and closure of Whitehaven Archive Centre, 2019 to 2020

Whitehaven Archive Centre will see significant investment to create space for a wider range of County Council services on the same site, including the Library, Archives, Registrars and Community Learning. The Archive Centre will benefit from new and increased strongroom accommodation. Details and plans are still to be confirmed. It is currently expected that work at Whitehaven Archive Centre will probably start in late 2019 and be completed in the summer of 2020. A temporary service for the public to access microfilms and local studies books will be available in Whitehaven Daniel Hay Library during this period. There will be no public access to original archives during this time. Staff will concentrate on essential collections work including backlog listing, cleaning and preservation, transfer and recording the location of collections.  

Further updates on progress on these works at both sites will be posted here and on our Twitter account @CumbriaArchives.

Volunteers wanted at Barrow Archives!

Help us preserve and make accessible our unique collections

Are you available on Mondays or Wednesdays to help us sort, package and catalogue the fascinating archive of a former local solicitor's practice?

Contact us for details: or phone 01229 407377

The Poor Law, Small Bills and Petty Finance, 1700 to 1834, Project

What is it?
Before the modern welfare system it was the responsibility of each parish to provide food, clothes, housing and medical care for the sick, infirm and old, and to support those who found themselves unemployed, or whose income was insufficient to maintain their dependants. This generated a huge amount of paperwork in the process, much of it in the form of bills and receipts or overseers' vouchers. Through itemised shop bills, we can study ordinary people who have been left out of history. Small Bills and Petty Finance 1700 to 1834 is a collaborative project between the universities of Keele and Sussex, and the archive services of Cumbria, East Sussex and Staffordshire with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Its aim is to investigate the provision of goods and services needed to keep the poor alive under the Old Poor Law. It presents an exciting an innovative approach to research by involving archival volunteers in academic historical enquiry. If you have an interest in local and family history, or are looking for new sources of information, then this project is for you.

How can people get involved?
The project is seeking archival volunteers to unfold, read and enter the contents of the overseers' vouchers at Carlisle Archive Centre into a searchable database. During the three-year project volunteers will be provided with on-going support and opportunities to contribute to its outputs including writing blog entries, developing study and research skills and learning from each other's knowledge and experience. Volunteers can work at Carlisle Archive Centre and there are opportunities for working at home. Later work on the project will explore the potential of the other Cumbria Archive Centres. Some of the Cumbrian related work is already available to view on the Poor Law website.

How much time will volunteering take?
We ask that volunteers make a flexible but regular commitment of their time. As a guide, volunteers will meet once a week, for two hours.
Where can people find out more information?
If you would like further information please email Dr Peter Collinge at who will be running the volunteer sessions at Carlisle Archive Centre, or register through the Poor Law website.

Barrow Streets: Your Photos Our Town!

Barrow Archive and Local Studies Centre would like to create a photographic record of the Borough in 2017-2018. You can contribute to Barrow Archives creation of a comprehensive and up to date photographic collection of the Borough of Barrow in Furness. We are looking for photographs of all the streets and not just prominent buildings. We would also like photographs of the inside of schools, churches, shops and public buildings.

Simply take photographs of commercial and residential streets, and notable buildings, from town centres, and suburban and rural areas in and around present day Barrow, Walney, Dalton, Lindal, Askam, Ireleth and Rampside. Please take a photograph and email it to

Attach your best photos, up to a maximum of four (or less than 35MB) to each email. Include the name of the street and buildings in the file name, and give your full name in the email. If you would like to donate printed photos from the past, or a large digital collection; or want further information on this project, email as above or call the Archives at Barrow Library on 01229 407377.

Once sufficient numbers of photographs have been received a webpage will be published. Contributors will be notified of this. Thank you for helping develop this important community resource for future generations.