Archives and Local History learning activities
The Archives Reading Room will be closed from Tuesday 5th January during the national lockdown. This is in line with archives services nationally. You can find out more about our collections and what is happening in Archives and Local History on our blog.

Keep visiting this page, as we will be updating it regularly.

You can book onto our Spring programme of online events for adults and children using eventbrite.

Resources for home schooling

Have a look at our own local history-themed education packs for school-age children, and those we’ve created in conjunction with York Civic Trust. All are based on our archive collections. Or try combining eighteenth-century records, stories, and educational books to learn about space with our Reach for the Stars pack.

Activities to try

Our new downloadable colouring pack is for young and old alike. Using images of stained glass and original drawings from the business collection of J W Knowles & Sons, York stained glass painters and restorers, there is something for all abilities.

Learning new skills

If you are interested in learning a new skill, why not have a look at the online palaeography (old handwriting) tutorials available? Both The National Archives (UK) and FutureLearn have free courses available, and you can learn Latin through The National Archives too.

If you are interested in spending some time sorting out your own personal archives, or those of an organisation you belong to, then have a look at our resources for Keeping Your Own Archives. You can also watch the archives training videos on our YouTube channel.

Learning from the Past: A Guide for the Curious Researcher will teach you how to understand the past to explain the present, and help you get to know the amazing sources and resources of the British Library. 

If you’ve never done any family history before try Genealogy:  Researching Your Family Tree. This course will help you develop an understanding of genealogy how to research your family tree and share the results. Don’t forget you can still access Ancestry and Find My Past through our online resources too.

Exploring York’s historic past

Our recently launched image portal contains around 7,500 historic images from our Archive and Local History collections. Through these photographs, illustrations, maps and archival documents you can walk forgotten streets, visit the old city centre slums, find out about York’s stained glass history and significant city events, and learn more about some of the people who lived in our city and the surrounding area.

Our Flickr galleries are also great for browsing some of our more popular collections, including the themes of sport, health, architects and engineers plans, and York in the Second World War. There’s also an opportunity for you to help us with our collection of unidentified images – post your comments about where you think they were taken, and we’ll use the information to update our catalogue descriptions and images site.

You can also now trial our brand new reminiscence pack, on domestic and working life in York. Created in partnership with University of York’s Institute for Public Understanding of the Past, the pack and its user guide combine archives from our our collections with film footage from Yorkshire Film Archive. Whilst we can’t lend out the accompanying Memory Bank DVDs just now, you can find similar content to support our pack on the Yorkshire Film Archive website.


If you’re looking for something a bit different, why not immerse yourself in the world of 1930s Hungate with our very own Nuisance Inspector podcast? An Explore Labs production supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, this one-off drama was originally staged at York Explore.

You can also learn more about how the production was made in our behind the scenes video, ‘The Making of the Nuisance Inspector.’

The Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, also has a regular podcast series where you can find out more about their collections and recent projects. Called ‘Out of the Archive Box‘, it’s available on most major podcast platforms.