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About PRONI

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Who are We?

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The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is the official archive for Northern Ireland.
Located in Belfast, PRONI is a government organisation founded in 1923 (shortly after the partition of Ireland). It now operates as part of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Opens a new browser window. (DCAL) within the Northern Ireland Civil Service Opens a new browser window. (NICS).

What do we do?

  • identify and preserve records of historical significance;
  • make records easily available to the public for their information, education and enjoyment;
  • encourage wider use of archives amongst all sectors of the community;
  • liaise with government departments and the public sector regarding the management of their current records and transfer of historical records to PRONI;
  • promote best practice in archival and records management;
  • input into archival policy making and the improvement of archival services in Northern Ireland and the UK.
  • meet legal requirements for public access to information, such as Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation

What type of records does PRONI hold?

PRONI holds millions of documents that relate chiefly, but not exclusively, to Northern Ireland.  They date largely from c.1600 to the present day (with a few dating back as far as the early 13th century).  The records held in PRONI fall into two main categories:

Public records:

PRONI holds public records mainly dating from around the formation of Northern Ireland (1921) to the present day. A small number date back to the 19th and late 18th centuries.  ‘Public record’ generally refers to any document created by ‘official’ sources such as:
  • government departments
  • non-departmental public organisations
    (courts of law, local authorities, non-departmental public bodies/quangos)

Privately deposited archives:

These include business records and church registers and can range from a single emigrant letter to a vast landed estate archive containing thousands of items and spanning a 300 year period.
For further details on our holdings, see research and records held.


Can anyone come into PRONI and see these records?

Yes. PRONI is open to everyone (children under 14 years should be accompanied by a responsible adult).  You don't need to make an appointment (but you may do so if you wish) and there is no admission fee.  The majority of our records are open to the public for consultation and research but we advise that, if you are visitng from a long distance and know what you want to see, you contact us beforehand to ensure the records are available.