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Local history materials and facilities

Sunderland Local History Library @ ETR has a number of resources and facilities.

Census records 

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.

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.

Trade directories 

from the 1820s to the early 1960s.

Electoral registers 

from the 1830s.


There are about 10,000 titles in the local collection.  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.


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.

Our Special Collections

include photographs and prints, the Lilburne Collection, Corder Manuscripts, Sunderland Then and Now and facsimile copies of the Lindisfarne Gospels.  A facsimile copy of the Codex Amiatinus which is on display at St Peter's Church

We have been fortunate to receive a lifetime's worth of research concerning Sunderland shipping from Alf Rodenby.  The collection covers many aspects, although the principal focus is Sunderland ship owners and their vessels.  The collection is currently stored in the Local Studies Reserve stack, but is available to view on request.  Please ask at the enquiry desk in the Local Studies Centre if you would like to consult this material.

Archive materials 

Tyne and Wear Archives (TWAS) was set up in 1974, all archives held locally were transferred to their care and since then all archives have gone to TWAS.  Durham County Record Office also holds materials for Sunderland.


The centre has 10 microfilm readers as well as free Internet access, for public use.  It also has a small study area, where visitors can consult documents.  Church registers, census returns, cemetery records and newspapers are available on microfilm.  Various indexes are also available to help your search.  A photocopier is available in the centre and all copying is subject to copyright regulations.  Our Library Engagement Assistants will show new users how to use the resources and are always pleased to give guidance and assistance to visitors.

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