Hackney Archives is the repository for the Council’s archives since 1965 and for those of its predecessors, Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington Metropolitan Borough Councils.
We also collect and preserve original records created by people and organisations based in, or connected with, the London Borough of Hackney. This includes charities, businesses, societies and community groups. You can search many of our archive lists on Access to Archives (A2A).
Local studies library
The local studies library is a large and growing collection of books, journals, pamphlets and ephemera associated with the history of the borough. It also holds information on general topics that have affected local history, locally produced publications, and biographies of local people. Of special interest is the collection of street directories covering the north of the borough during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Search the local studies library.
The Archive holds copies of most newspapers published in the Hackney area since the Shoreditch Observer in 1857. The most important holding is the Hackney Gazette, which first appeared in 1864 though the main series only survives from 1869. For preservation reasons, most newspapers are only available on microfilm.
The first detailed map of the area was made in 1745, when a map of Shoreditch was made by order of the Vestry. In the same year Rocque began his survey of the area 10 miles around London and this provided the earliest detailed maps of Hackney and Stoke Newington. The map collection also includes ordnance survey maps, dating back to the first full ordnance survey of the area in 1870, as well as other eighteenth century maps of smaller areas within the borough and sales plans of estates, mainly from the nineteenth century. Some of the maps have been reproduced and are available for sale.
Photographs, drawings and paintings
The visual collection at Hackney Archives provides a fascinating insight into the history of the borough and a valuable supplement to the archives and local studies collections. The collection of over 20,000 images includes drawings, watercolours, oil paintings, photographs and digital images. A small proportion of these images can be searched on the historic images page. The full collection can be accessed by visiting our search room. About two thirds of the images in the collection have been digitised and can be accessed by a photograph database available in the search room.
The moving image collection at Hackney Archives consists mainly of 16mm cine film and VHS video dating roughly between the 1930s and 2004. Many of the films were produced by the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney between about 1930 and about 1970. A particular strength of the collection is the depiction of housing and urban development in Hackney in the post-war period. Some of the earlier Council films show the opening of housing estates, while some of the later videos update the record with footage of the demolition of tower blocks and of regeneration programmes. The collection also depicts social life and community, with Council films about public health, visits of royalty and other dignitaries, and activities such as a Coronation street party.