Coronavirus: council service information and advice

You need to wear a face covering in the history centre. There are also new limits on documents you can order in advance - view the coronavirus updates for more information.

The Portsmouth History Centre is on the second floor of Portsmouth Central Library and comprises:

Our service from 6 July 2020

Portsmouth History Centre is open again after the lockdown!

In line with government guidelines we have reorganised the services we offer, in order to do what we can to keep our users and staff safe.

We strongly advise you to contact us by phone or email before you visit, as we have reduced the number of tables, and only one computer and one microfilm reader is now available (to allow social distancing), so you can book a table or the computer or microfilm reader.

We will only be able to accommodate users who have not booked in advance if space is available.


Before You Visit

Before you visit, please let us know what you are hoping to find out and what records you would like to see, so that we can have these ready for you when you arrive and make sure that they are not quarantined when you visit.

You can order up to 10 documents in advance.

Please give us as much notice as you can - no less than 3 working days - before you intend to visit.

Some documents are stored off-site, and it will take longer to produce these than documents stored at the Central Library.

We will be able to advise you where items are stored, and how long it is likely to take to have them ready for you.


Please note - we may not be able to produce additional records for you during your visit.


Tel: 023 9268 8046


User Card

You will need to show us a Portsmouth History Centre user card or proof of your name and address (such as a driving licence or utility bill) when you enter the History Centre.


When you arrive at Portsmouth History Centre

Please arrive shortly before the time you have booked.

Social distancing and hygiene measures are in place.  These include a queuing system outside the Central Library, and if necessary outside Portsmouth History Centre.

You will be assigned a table (or microfilm reader or computer) when you book. Please bring your own pencil and notebook. We do not allow users to bring bags or coats into the History Centre - these should be left in a locker outside the History Centre.

Please follow all the requests by staff members as they are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. 


Visitors are asked to comply with the following to protect our collections:

Signing In

You will need to prove your name and address when you come to the centre. Show us a document, such as a driving licence or utility bill (dated within the last three months), and we will give you a Portsmouth History Centre card allowing access to the centre's resources. Day tickets can be issued for occasional visitors.


Visitors are asked to leave their bags in the lockers provided before going into the History Centre


Only pencils may be used in the History Centre. Ink blots and biro marks will never come off!


Ask the staff on duty if you would like to photograph a document. Photography permits are available at a charge of £10 a day.


Photocopying is at the staff's discretion, if the condition of the item and copyright regulations permit. Staff will also explain the scale of charges.

Food and drink

Eating and drinking is not permitted in the History Centre

Microfilm readers or genealogy computers

To book either microfilm readers or genealogy computers, phone 023 9268 8046

Many items are stored at the History Centre but part of the collection is kept off-site:

  • items stored off-site should be requested in advance. Please allow up to five working days for them to be made available at the History Centre. Original photographs are usually stored off-site
  • documents at the History Centre do not normally require advance booking. However, some records are not available for public consultation

The documents in the table below are kept at the History Centre and do not normally require advance booking. However, some records will not be available for public consultation either due to their fragile condition or for data protection reasons. 

Records fromHeld at Portsmouth History Centre

Anglican Churches in the Portsmouth Diocese

Parish records - some are available only on microfilm or microfiche

Portsmouth City Council

  • Quarter sessions records 1670 - 1882 including: examinations, indictments and calendars. These records are incomplete 
  • School records
  • Rate books
  • Civil defence records from the second world war


  • Board of Guardians minute books
  • Creed registers 1879-1953 (which served as admission registers). Creed registers under 100 years old are not available for public consultation 
City Librarian's collection (known as 11A)

Documents collected by the City Librarian including settlement certificates, apprenticeship indentures, correspondence and antiquarian papers.

Police  Staff and administration records – not records of crimes or criminals
Royal Naval & Royal Marines Orphanage Annual Reports

Rate this page