Knowing where our collections come from and how we get them helps explain both what we have and why there may be gaps in our coverage.
Bedfordshire County Council, which existed from 1889-2009.
We began as the official archives service for the County Council and our holdings are quite comprehensive. The council’s archives include the minutes of the elected council and its committees plus material received from the departments of the council. Some departments of the administration are better represented than others and changes in the way the council was organised makes the catalogue quite complicated.
The county council also inherited the archives of other boards, courts and organisations when their functions were transferred to the county council and our holdings include these.
Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Councils
Since 2009 we have continued as the official archives of the unitary councils of Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Council however we have yet to receive major deposits from these councils. This is partly because records are still in use and partly because minutes of the elected councils and their committees are published online.
Church of England
We are the appointed diocesan record office for Bedfordshire ecclesiastical parishes in the Church of England Diocese of St Albans. Under English legislation certain records produced by each Church of England church are required to be passed to us for safe keeping once they reach a certain age. These records may be sent to us before they reach that age. Other records may be sent to us for safe keeping. In general our holdings of registers of baptism, marriages and burials are good but the records will vary from parish to parish.
Central Government Public Records
We are a place of deposit (POD) for public records. Public records are defined by English legislation and are certain types of record created by specific bodies that are controlled by central government. The idea of PODs is to enable records produced locally to be held locally rather than everything being sent to the national archives of central government in London. Records no longer needed for business use should be transferred by their creators when those records are 20 years old. The main public records we hold are the registers and minutes of magistrate courts and their predecessors the Petty and Quarter sessions. We also hold some material from the National Health Service. What we hold is limited and, in many cases, not very detailed; it does not include patient records. We also hold records from the local Coroner. There may be restrictions on access to any records which include personal data.
All our other collections, more than 50% of our holdings, come to us from private organisations and individuals. We do not have the resources to be proactive and therefore what we have is very largely what we have been offered that falls within our collecting policy. We admit there are gaps in our collections and we are always keen to hear of material that could help us to fill those gaps and make our collections more comprehensive and representative of the diversity of the county and its people. If you have material you are considering depositing with us, please see our information for depositors.