The Story brings together five different collections of historic records, documents and objects. Together these collections reveal fascinating glimpses into the lives of people throughout County Durham’s history.

The collections speak of people’s attitudes and adventures, difficulties and differences, connections and communities. They hold unexpected items and hidden treasures. 

The team of The Story in front of the buildings. The original building is on the lefthand side and the recently built one is on the righthand side.
Photo of a woman's profile flipping through a book. The woman wears glasses, has short grey hair, and is dressed in a black long-sleeve top

County Durham Archives – six miles and 900 years of history

County Durham Archives holds records of County Durham and Darlington, including the pre-1974 historic county between the Rivers Tyne and Tees.

The collection tells wide-ranging stories from royal visits to poverty and hardship, from blossoming new towns to technological innovation. 

The archives span over 900 years from our earliest parchment document of 1122 to modern digital records.

These stories of our county are found in letters, maps, diaries, plans, photographs, deeds and charters, and much more.

Historic Environment Record – archaeological treasures from below the ground

Our archaeology collections were unearthed from the ground – mostly through archaeological digs but sometimes by metal-detecting or even by chance. 

Everyday objects such as fragments of pottery are all precious clues to the puzzle of the past. Other objects stand out as rare or important discoveries. 

As well as objects, we maintain the Historic Environment Record. This is an archive of information about archaeological sites, ancient monuments, historic buildings, excavations, metal-detectorist finds and chance discoveries. It contains information acquired through excavation, geophysical survey, aerial reconnaissance and LIDAR survey. 

A coloured photo of an excavation site. There are several people exploring.
A coloured photo of a drum from the military band.

Durham Light Infantry Collection – 300 years of DLI stories

The Durham Light Infantry Collections contains uniforms, archives and medals charting the lives of individual soldiers. 

Not all treasures are made of gold and silver. Many of our objects are prized because of the stories they tell – of sacrifice, heroism and regimental life. 

Since 1758 the Durham Light Infantry has fought in every major British military campaign – with the exception of Waterloo and Gallipoli. Through the collection we can understand the contribution of the Regiment to the history of the British Army.

Local Studies

The Local Studies collection contains many sources of information that detail the history of the places and people of County Durham. These range from photographs and trade directories of local businesses to maps, local newspapers and books. The collection assists people undertaking research about the local area and can help people to investigate their own family history. 

A photo of a book of the collection. It has a circle over the image of a male.
A registry document.

Historic Registration

All births, deaths and marriages in County Durham since 1837 are recorded in the Historic Registration collection.

These documents tell us about communities, relationships and connections between people. They show the jobs people have done, where they have lived and when and how people died. They can help us trace connections back through many generations.

Registers can also help tell the story of local tragedies like colliery disasters and outbreaks of illness. 

Our Collections

Explore YOUR County Durham Story

Use our collections to explore the people, places and events that make County Durham what it is today. 

Search the thousands of objects and documents to discover hidden stories, family connections, global networks and county treasures.