Getting to know the Local History Library and Archive

Southwark’s rich and diverse history is told through surviving documents. These historical sources, along with information on changes in the borough today, have been gathered at Southwark Local History Library and Archive.

If you are researching your family history, or just curious to know more about how your local area has changed over the years, then you can find a wealth of information waiting to be uncovered in the library and archive on Borough High Street.

LHL Film Footage

Stills from film footage in the archive

Around 20,000 photographs, prints and topographical watercolours provide a vivid visual record of Southwark over the last 200 years. And a range of films reflecting life in the borough, from 1899 to the present day, let you join residents as they celebrate everything from Christmas parties and sports days to Royal visits.

Written archives include press cutting, periodicals, parish registers, Post Office directories and some of the records of the former civil parishes going back to the 16th century, including vestry minutes, taxation records and poor law records. Some local organisations have also deposited their records, including businesses, non conformist churches and early schools.

The archives continue to grow and if you have material that you would like to donate please contact one of the archivists who can determine whether it would be a suitable addition to Southwark’s holdings or be better suited to another institution.

Inspired by historic films from the collection, young people from the Cuming Museum’s Youth Panel created three short films on the theme of Growing Up in Southwark. This included a short introduction to using the resources at the Southwark Local History Library and Archive.