To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).
Registers of paid officers of the Poor Law Commission and its successors, 1837-1921
Browse our catalogue in MH 9 for registers of paid officers of the Poor Law Commission and its successors. The registers are arranged in alphabetical order of geographical district, and then under the various categories of staff, including administrative, workhouse, infirmary, school, medical and relieving staff.
Poor Law Union correspondence, 1834-1900
Most of the correspondence in MH 12 has not been digitised or catalogued in any detail and our catalogue, Discovery, just has the name and number of the union and a range of dates. For example, MH 12/559, contains correspondence from Cambridge between 1834 and 1837 but the catalogue description only tells you the name of the union and the covering dates.
Search in MH 12 by name of the Poor Law Union and date for correspondence between the union and the government department responsible for the poor law.
The catalogue descriptions will have the name of the poor law union which may not be the same as the place where the workhouse was sited. For example, the workhouse in Slough was the workhouse of the Eton poor law union. A search of MH 12 using Slough as a search term does not find the correspondence, instead you should search using Eton.
Use the Workhouses website to find lists of workhouses and poor law unions in England and in Wales.
Indexes to correspondence, 1836-1920
The series MH 15 contains subject indexes to correspondence and papers between 1836 and 1920. They are not name indexes of correspondence but if you know an individual was involved or associated with a particular event or subject area, for example, dismissed staff, the indexes may be a way to find correspondence.
Indexes up to 1855 are annual. From 1856 indexes cover a number of years but there may be up to four indexes covering the same date range, divided alphabetically by subjects. The subject divisions are not obvious to the modern eye, so it may be advisable to look at all indexes for a given year.
The indexes have a contemporary referencing system using the year, paper number and the union number. So, for example, a reference 64/3178/571 means paper number 3178 for 1864 in correspondence from union number 571 (Keighley). The union number can be found in the MH 12 correspondence catalogue entry, in this case MH 12/15164, Keighley 571, 1861-1864, a volume of correspondence covering 1861-1864. Look for the letter numbered 3178 in 1864.