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About the Dorset History Centre

Dorset History Centre is dedicated to preserving, sharing and celebrating the rich heritage of Dorset.

Who are we?

Dorset History Centre brings together two services - the Dorset Record Office and Dorset County Local Studies Library:

Dorset History Centre houses the archives of Dorset ranging from Council records to personal collections, search our online catalogue or contact us to find out more. The Local Studies Library catalogue is also available online.

What do we do?

  • Collect, preserve and make documents available to view; these include paper, parchment and printed documents as well as audio-visual material and digital records.
  • Care for, and carry out conservation work on documents if necessary.
  • Provide copies of documents, including high quality prints
  • Support projects relating to history and heritage in Dorset.


The Dorset Record Office was founded in 1955, originally based at County Hall in Dorchester. The collections expanded considerably and in 1991 the Record Office moved to a purpose-built building with environmentally controlled strong rooms on Bridport Road.

From 1997 the Record Office has operated as a joint service for Bournemouth Borough Council (opens in a new window), the  Borough of Poole (opens in a new window) and Dorset County Council.

In 2005 the County Local Studies Library was moved to the Record Office which was then renamed Dorset History Centre.

  • County Hall, Dorchester c1960s: Link to GovernanceGovernance

    The governance and oversight of the Joint Archives Service.

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