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About Cambridgeshire Archives Service

Inspiring ever more people to discover, imagine and illuminate Cambridgeshire’s past.

Archives are profoundly important for communities, families, and individuals. They are Cambridgeshire’s collective memory, providing authoritative evidence to help people solve problems and discover the truth, and they bring our shared past alive as a frame of reference for the county’s present and future.

Cambridgeshire’s archives encourage pride in individual and community identities, helping to connect people with their individual and collective past and with the histories of where they live and work.

Archives capture the imaginations of young people, inspiring them to take an interest in their surroundings. For adult learners, carrying out research in archives satisfies our natural thirst for knowledge, and for many, it helps build our skills and confidence. The wealth of information contained within archives contributes towards better-informed decision-making and supports specialist research and expertise in fields such as medicine, social care, and the environment.

We want all of Cambridgeshire's citizens to be inspired to explore the records of our county, and to contribute information in turn to future generations by sharing with us the records they create today.

We want to provide access to our unique collections in a way that suits modern lifestyles and meets the needs of our communities, remaining relevant and continually reaching a wider audience.

Rainbow coloured segments in a circle, listing the stages in the cycle of value. These are detailed below.
Cycle of Value

Cambridgeshire Archives Cycle of Value

New accessions of historical documents contribute towards our knowledge and understanding of the many archives we already hold.

We safeguard these unique archives for generations to come by storing them in purpose-built archives accommodation and through expert conservation and repair work. This work provides opportunities for volunteers

We catalogue these records, involving volunteers whenever possible, and publish our catalogues online so that our user audiences can know exactly how our archives can help them with their research.

Individual documents are expertly scanned, making them available to the widest possible audience without harming the precious originals, generating income for the service, and providing volunteer opportunities.

Researchers freely and securely access the original documents in our two public search rooms at Ely and Huntingdon. Expert on-site staff are happy to give advice on the nature and context of the documents being consulted and to provide recommendations to our users on how to progress their research.

We reach new audiences and grow existing ones by making full use of our archives in exhibitions, displays, educational workshops, and outreach sessions.

Our archives actively contribute to the well-being of many different communities and localities, through CCAN groups, local and family history societies, civic societies, and others.

Users and stakeholders are inspired to deposit records of their own, giving them sense of pride in the knowledge that they are contributing towards many years of future research.

Archives service activities

In pursuit of our vision, Cambridgeshire Archives Service carries out the following activities. These activities are underpinned by legislation, which is outlined in the separate document Background and Statutory Powers.

  • We acquire by gift, deposit, transfer or purchase, historical documents which fall within the terms of our Collections Development Policy.
  • We will seek to gather information about Cambridgeshire records held elsewhere (eg through limited surveys) and we will act to obtain records when they are deemed to be at risk of loss or destruction, as outlined in our Collections Development Policy

  • We physically safeguard these documents by storing them within secure, fire-protected, and environmentally-controlled archive stores, as outlined in our Collections Care Policy.

  • Where necessary we carry out expert conservation or repair work on individual documents, as outlined in our Collections Care Policy.

  • We catalogue these records in accordance with modern professional standards, and we make these catalogues freely available online, as outlined in our Collections Information Policy.

  • We make original documents freely available for consultation by researchers in our secure supervised search rooms, as outlined in our Access Policy.

  • We ensure that trained staff are always on hand to give advice to researchers on the nature and context of the documents they are consulting, and to provide recommendations to researchers on how to progress their research, as outlined in our Access Policy.

  • We utilise copies of documents to create exhibitions, displays, educational sessions, and outreach events, as outlined in our Access Policy.

  • We provide copies of historical documents upon request, as outlined in our Access Policy.

  • We engage with and contribute to the work of relevant Cambridgeshire-based communities.

  • We can provide limited advice to Cambridgeshire-based individuals and organisations on how to preserve records which have not been deposited with us.

Privacy notice

We take protecting your personal privacy seriously. Our policies and procedures on the collection, use and disclosure of your information are described in the Archives Service privacy notice.