Our archives currently contain very little relating to the experiences of individuals and groups living and operating in York, who originally arrived here as refugees. This is something we are actively looking to rectify, so if you are aware of any organisations or individuals who hold archives that might interest us, or you feel that you might be able to support us in this work, please contact us.

We recognise, though, that some archive collections are best kept in local communities rather than in an archives service, as they support the creation of a sense of place and community identity. If you are looking for advice on how to create your own archive, or how to preserve what you currently have for future generations, please have a look at our advice for community groups or get in touch. We’ll be happy to support in any way we can.

If you are interested in researching the history of refugees in the UK, the best place to start is with The National Archives (UK) online research guide. The National Archives holds a large collection of records relating to refugees, including records on particular crises, the treatment of refugees (including observer reports), international law relating to refugees, and government policies on the relocation and settlement of refugees. Please note that whilst the guide offers some advice on tracking down records of individual refugees, such documents are often very hard, and sometimes impossible, to find.

For younger viewers, The National Archives (UK) Education Service has created three episodes of Time Travel TV, looking at the experiences of child refugees found in their archive collections. Each episode is around four minutes long, and you can find them on The National Archives’ YouTube channel at the following links:

Our key collections

The following are some of the key collections we hold relating to refugee history. You can find more information on how best to search our catalogue on our Getting started page.

Please be aware that collections which are less than 100 years old and contain personal information relating to potentially living individuals are covered by the Data Protection Act 2018. These collections are identified on our catalogue by the access conditions ‘Restricted Access’ and can currently only be viewed in particular circumstances. For more information and to discuss your research requirements please contact us.

  • City of York Council Civil Defence papers: Refugees, 1957-1960 [Reference: Y/ORD/4/7/80]. This series includes papers relating to Hungarian refugees in the York area, and the role of the York Hungarian relief committee.

  • Records of Sir John Arthur Ransome Marriott MP, 1870-2002 [Reference: MAR]. Includes a published pamphlet from 1939 entitled ‘The Refugee Question’ [Reference: MAR/25/295].

  • York Refugee Committee, 1938-1945 [Reference: REF]. This committee supported adults and children from Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic who were relocated to the York area.