Find out more about the materials held by the Local Studies Centre


There are about 10,000 titles in the local collection. The books are for reference only but there is a lending collection in the main library.

Most of the books are not on the open shelves as many of them are valuable or very rare and impossible to replace.

The computer catalogue can be used to find any of the books in stock and they will be brought out for use in the library.


Copies of the local papers from 1831 onwards are available on microfilm.

We have the Sunderland Echo from 1873 to date. We also keep some Seaham papers, the Seaham Observer from 1858 to 1870 and the Seaham Weekly News from 1860 to 1938.

If you need to use the newspapers it is advisable to pre-book a microfilm reader as there is a heavy demand for them.

There is also limited free access to the British Newspaper Archive via library computers which hold copies of local and national newspapers.


We have a large collection of maps which date from 1723, the biggest section of the map collection being the Ordnance Survey (OS) maps. We have all the OS maps of the city from the first edition of 1855 to the latest printed editions - also available are the 6-inch to the mile maps of County Durham. There are geological maps of the area and some specialised plans, for example the Admiralty Charts of the local coastline.

Trade directories

Although not complete, this collection dates from the 1820s to the early 1960s.

Shipping registers

The collection includes Lloyds Registers of Shipping from 1816 to date, which is complete from 1874 onwards, and Lloyds Wreck Registers from 1890.

Census data

The centre holds all available census records, from 1841 to 1901, for the city of Sunderland. These are indexed by street name and, in some cases, by personal name.

Electoral registers

The collection dates from the 1830s. Electoral Commission regulations may restrict your ability to view these records.