Archives and Local History learning activities
The Archives Reading Room will be closed from Thursday 5 November 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 our Autumn programme of online events for adults and children here.

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.

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 7,000 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.

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.

Virtual collections

There are hundreds of organisations with online collections that you can explore.

British Online Archives provides students and researchers in the humanities and social sciences with access to unique collections of primary source documents. The website hosts over three million records drawn from both private and public archives. These records are organised thematically, covering 1,000 years of world history, from politics and warfare to slavery and medicine.

The British Library has a wonderful resource of historic newspapers, medieval manuscripts, sound recordings and curated online exhibitions.

The Imperial War Museum archives tell the story of modern war and conflict, collected by the museum since 1917.

Access personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, films, works of art and organizational records via the Smithsonian’s digital collections.

Browse the extraordinary collections held by the Bodleian Library.

Thousands of photographs, maps, music, books, manuscripts and more are available in the National Library of Scotland’s digital collections.

Warwick University’s Modern Records Centre has been creating digitised collections since 2011. They have large online collections on a range of subjects – from the Spanish Civil War to pre-NHS healthcare.

Duke University have 861 digital collections online.

Harvard Digital Collections provides free, public access to over six million objects digitized from our collections – from ancient art to modern manuscripts and audio visual materials.