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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

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Apply for Quick Search

About the Quick Search service at Durham County Record Office.

Quick Search is part of the Record Office online shop.

Use Quick Search to order and pay online for a brief search for a specific entry in a single document in our records.

The search is limited to a single year (newspaper searches are limited to a single issue).

Before you apply

The £5 Quick Search fee is not refundable, so we ask you to check that we hold the relevant records before you apply online.

Search Church Registers to check what Church of England, Roman Catholic and Nonconformist registers we keep, and their covering dates.

Remember that more recent church registers may still be in use and will be stored at the church, not in the Record Office.

Cemeteries and crematoria records are kept by several different organisations.

Electoral registers for County Durham are mostly kept at the Record Office. Local Studies libraries hold the electoral registers for Blaydon Parliamentary Borough (1971-1974), Darlington County Borough (from 1918), Gateshead County Borough (from 1918), Hartlepool County Borough (from 1918), Jarrow Parliamentary Borough (from 1955), South Shields County Borough (from 1918), Stockton County Borough (from 1918) and Sunderland County Borough (from 1918). 

Newspapers are held at the Record Office or in Local Studies libraries.

When you order

The standard Quick Search service costs £5.

There is an option to upgrade to a high quality digital copy or a certified copy for an additional £7.

You pay the £5 fee when you order. 

If you have selected an upgrade option you won't be asked to pay for this until we confirm that we have found the entry you are looking for.

We will email you a link to our online shop to collect any additional payment.

What is a digital copy upgrade?

If the quality of the copy is as important as the information it contains, ask for a digital copy upgrade.

Gainford baptisms 1816 microfilm print 

Example of a parish register print from microfilm

Gainford baptisms 1816 digital image

Example of the same parish register as a digital image.

For an additional £7 we will photograph the original document in colour and, if necessary, enhance hard to read handwriting with UV light.

Winston register 1744 digital image Winston register 1744 UV image

Digital copies are supplied as 300dpi JPEGs or an equivalent format.

Remember that some records are still hard to read, even as high quality digital copies, due to the age or condition of the original document.

What is a certified copy upgrade?

When you need a copy as evidence for official purposes, order a certified copy.

Gainford baptisms 1816 certified copy

The copy is overlaid by a signed declaration from the County Archivist, certifying that it is an authentic copy of the original record.

For example, if you need a copy of your baptism because you are getting married, or you are applying for a school place in a faith school, order a certified copy.

Who does the research and what do you receive?

Experienced members of the Record Office staff will search the records for you.

Most Quick Search requests relate to popular family history sources, especially parish registers.

Please be aware that many of our most popular family history records, such as church registerselectoral registers, cemetery and crematoria registers and newspapers have been microfilmed. This is to protect the original documents from over-use and preserve them for future generations.

So when you ask us to search for an entry in a church register, our staff will search the microfilm copy, not the original record, and the copy we send you will be a monochrome print from the microfilm, not the original register (unless you ask for an upgrade).

  • If we are unable to locate the entry you asked us to find, we will email you to say the search was unsuccessful.
  • If we do locate the correct entry, we will send you a microfilm print or photocopy, scanned and sent as an email attachment.
  • If you request a digital copy upgrade we will email you a link to download the image.
  • If you request a certified copy we will send it to your email or postal address.

Prints from microfilm may contain scratch marks. If the entry is illegible we will provide you with a transcript of what the entry says and advise you whether to upgrade to a digital copy.

Quick Search exclusions

We cannot search for records that we do not keep.

  • Birth certificates after 1837
  • Death certificates after 1837
  • Marriages in register offices after 1837

can only be ordered from the local registration service, or from the General Register Office. See who to contact on our birth, marriage and death records page.

  • Roman Catholic and nonconformist church registers of baptism, marriage and burial (Gateshead, South Shields, Sunderland and Washington areas) are at Tyne and Wear Archives.
  • Roman Catholic and nonconformist church registers of baptism, marriage and burial (Hartlepool and Stockton areas) are at Teesside Archives.

For searches where you don't know the specific location or year of the entry you are looking for, apply for Research Service.

For Winterton Hospital patient records apply for Research Service.

Go to Quick Search in the Record Office online shop.

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