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You are currently in: Visiting the Essex Record Office

Using the Searchroom

2 July 2012

Temporary changes to the production of parchment documents

Due to a failure of an air handling unit, which regulates the moisture content of air in the searchroom, we have temporarily stopped the production of parchment documents.

Parchment documents can be viewed elsewhere at the Record Office Monday-Thursday 2pm-4pm and Friday 1.30pm-3.30pm.

We are repairing the unit and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Beginning your research

Once you enter the Searchroom at the Essex Record Office (ERO), Archive Assistants will show you how to start your research and where to locate records. There will be a member of staff on hand to provide assistance with microfilm and microfiche resources, such as parish registers, but these resources are self service. Staff will, however, provide assistance in finding and using these.  If you wish to make copies from microfilm or microfiche, self service printer-readers are available.
If you wish to make copies of documents, you may be able to do so with a digital camera. Strict conditions of use apply, and not all documents can be copied in this way. There is a reprographics service available that may be able to supply copies. Ask the Archive Assistants for more information.
If you would like to know more about the resources that can be found in the Searchroom, we provide guided tours. Details of these can be found on the Workshops, Lectures and Education page. These tours need to be booked in advance. For more information on upcoming tours contact the Essex Record Office.

Ordering documents to view

The Seax computerised catalogue is available on the Searchroom computers. It enables users to search and order documents. Digital images of some documents on Seax can be viewed on the computers. The Seax page has more information.
Once you have found items you are interested in, you can order up to five documents at once. When the documents that you have ordered are available, your name will be displayed on the electronic display panels in the Searchroom and on the ground floor. Your document(s) will be available from the Document Issue Desk, which is located to the side of the Searchroom Desk.
You may only look at one original document at a time. Each document is weighed before it is issued to you, and again on its return, to ensure that pages are not mislaid and it is returned complete. You will be asked to surrender your CARN ticket while you are in possession of the document. Without your CARN ticket you will be unable to leave the Searchroom.
If you need to leave the Searchroom for a short while before you have finished with the document, you must return the document to the Document Issue Desk. If asked, the staff there will keep the document for you and return your CARN ticket, allowing you to leave the Searchroom.
Once you have finished with the document, you must return it to the Document Issue Desk.
For information about making copies of documents in the Searchroom, see the Copying Documents page.

Reference Library

In addition to the archives, the ERO has an extensive reference library of local history publications and books that can be used to assist with research. There are card indexes arranged by author, subject and place. The Archive Assistants will direct you to the card index.



Searchroom conditions of use 

The following conditions of use are in place to ensure the security and protection of the items contained in the ERO. If you have any queries, the archivist on duty will be able to help, or you can contact the ERO prior to your visit. Use of the Searchroom is dependent upon acceptance of these conditions;


  • All bags must be stored in the locker room. Both the locker room and Searchroom have CCTV.
  • Take as little as possible into the Searchroom. Notes are allowed, but if they are in folders we reserve the right to search any folders when you leave. Transparent wallets are provided for holding notes and small items.
  • Pens are not allowed in the Searchroom. Only pencils may be used.
  • Laptops may be used in the Searchroom. Each desk has power points for your use. Laptop bags must be left in the locker room.
  • Digital cameras may be used, subject to the conditions of use. Scanners are not allowed.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the Searchroom. This includes bottled water and cough sweets.