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Records held in PRONI

Selection of guides available in the PRONI search room Volumes in a PRONI strongroom Visitors conducting research in the PRONI reading room
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) holds literally millions of documents that relate chiefly, but by no means exclusively, to Northern Ireland.  These records cover a period from c.1600 (with a few dating back as far as the early 13th century) to the present day.
The records held in PRONI fall into two main categories – public records and privately deposited archives.

Public records

The term ‘public record’ generally refers to any document created by an ‘official’ source.  Public records can be further sub-divided into departmental (previously ministry) records and records of non-departmental public organisations.

Records of government departments (previously ministries)

PRONI holds a large number of official archives of the various departments/ministries of the Northern Ireland Governments, past and present.  These records mainly date from around the formation of Northern Ireland (1921) to the present day.  A small number date back to the 19th and late 18th centuries.
These archives chart the development of local administration under the Government of Ireland Act (1920) from the establishment of the original ministries in 1921-1922, through to the modern day.  Some examples of departmental public records include:
  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Ministry of Commerce
  • Cabinet Secretariat
  • Department of the Environment
  • Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

Records of non-departmental public organisations

PRONI holds a wide and varied range of other records from official sources such as local authorities and non-departmental public bodies/quangos. Some examples non-departmental public records include:
  • Schools
  • Crown court
  • Coroner’s court
  • County Councils
  • Board of Guardians (Workhouses)
  • Ulster Transport Authority

Privately deposited archives

Privately deposited archives make up a large percentage of PRONI’s holdings. These range from business records to church registers - a single emigrant letter to a vast landed estate archive containing thousands of items and spanning a 300 year period.
Some examples of privately deposited archives include:
  • Businesses
  • Solicitors
  • Political parties
  • Private individuals
  • Landed estates
  • Churches
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