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Help us develop Tower Hamlets collections for the future

Can I donate my records to you?

We collect, preserve and promote the diverse heritage of the East End of London.

We always welcome offers of records, images and books relating to the Tower Hamlets area. We also provide advice to help you look after your records.

We want to ensure the collections are representative of the diverse lives, communities and built landscapes of the borough. By working together we can help document our society to benefit current and future generations.

Have something to donate?

Please check the headings and email us. You can also complete our Collections Development enquiry form. 

Return it to us at

We provide a long-term home for material relating to Tower Hamlets. Whether it’s a single photograph or a large collection of documents.

Sometimes we are offered items that would be better placed elsewhere. In these cases, we will direct you to other archives, libraries or museums.

THLHLA accepts

  • Original records

We usually accept original documents. We can take copies where originals are not available.

  • Gifts

We usually accept records as a gift.

We can also take in records as a loan, especially for those of active organisations or groups.

For gifts, we will usually ask you to transfer any copyright you hold in the items to us. This is so that we can make copies and allow people to publish images. Read on for more information on copyright and ownership.

  • Different formats

We accept many kinds of records, such as:

  • minutes and reports
  • photos
  • prints
  • maps
  • press cuttings
  • books
  • pamphlets
  • posters
  • letters
  • digital photos
  • Secondary source material

We have a large local history library and add relevant items when we don't have copies. This includes unpublished manuscripts or theses.

THLHLA does not usually accept

  • Records which are still in use

We don’t usually accept records which you are still using, or likely to use. This includes meeting minutes and important documents from the last 10-15 years.

  • Short-term deposits

We don’t usually accept short-term deposits.

  • Fine art, objects and artefacts

We do not usually collect these items unless they are closely connected to an archive we hold. We are happy to provide advice on museums or galleries who you can contact. For more, please see our collections management and collections development policies.

  • Very large collections with complex storage needs

We have limited storage space. We can't always commit to taking in very large or very damaged collections.

We will usually ask you to transfer your ownership and copyright in the records to us. If we don’t have this, it can be hard to grant access in the future. le to grant permission.

We will also ask you to allow is to use your images in our publicity, outreach and education work.

We will ask you to allow our parent organisation, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, to do the same.

We understand that you may not wish to transfer your copyright.

Our team is happy to talk through your options. If you don't wish to transfer copyright to us, we will ask you for up to date contact details. We will also ask for consent to pass on enquiries to you. Without this, we might not be able to take in the records.

Records generated by organisations

Organisations include businesses, charities, campaign groups, tenant associations, and places of worship. We often take in the following types of records:

  • Foundation Records

Such as charters, grants, royal licences, articles, certificates of incorporation and rules

  • Governance documents

Such as meeting minutes, agendas, and annual reports

  • Operational records

Such as registers, lists, files, and factory records

  • Papers of key members. Key members include founders, directors, and secretaries. Records may include:
    • correspondence,
    • project and planning files,
    • reports,
    • and business plans
  • Financial records

Such as annual accounts, cash and account books, and ledgers. We don't tend to take in routine records such as invoices and cash stubs.

  • Records relating to staff

Such as lists and registers, ledgers, files on key individuals, pension schemes, and rules. Large series subject to Data Protection may not be accepted in the short-medium term.

  • Property and premises papers

Such as deeds, plans, inventories, valuations and artwork

  • Printed and other audio-visual material, such as:
    • photographs,
    • scrapbooks,
    • news cuttings,
    • in-house magazines
    • leaflets,
    • booklets,
    • posters,
    • films,
    • video footage and audio cassettes.

We don't usually accept artefacts.

Family and personal collections

  • Personal records. These may include
    • diaries
    • recipe books
    • lettes
    • photographs
    • collected items from events or clubs
    • hards drive
    • ... and much more.
  • Organisation or work records

People may well have items which reflect their involvement in organisations. For record types, see above.

  • Property records

Such as deeds and plans relating to Tower Hamlets.

Graphic, visual and literature collections

We take in collections built over time which are relevant to Tower Hamlets. This includes:

  • photos
  • posters
  • drawings
  • maps
  • prints
  • films
  • videos and
  • tapes.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is part of the Idea Stores and Libraries service managed by Tower Hamlets Council.

From 14th century deeds to 21st century photographs, unique maps of the borough to local history reference books, the collections provide evidence and illustration of the history of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Our collections are freely accessible at our large Grade 2 listed Victorian library in Bancroft Road.

If you have something to donate, please email us for a chat. This will give us the chance to discuss your records and give you advice. Please do not arrive with a potential donation without contacting us. Please do not send any records to us in the post without confirmation from us.

For more information and advice please complete our Collections Development Enquiry Form. Return it to us at