We house records of public interest from a wide range of sources, for future preservation and for use in historical research, and are always pleased to receive new deposits.
We keep documents in secure and environmentally safe conditions. We also identify, arrange and list them according to approved professional standards, and in most cases, make them available for supervised research.
What We Collect
We collect material that relates to Devon’s history or shows what Devon is like today. Archives can include written records, maps, photographs, sound recordings and digital records.
If you have any documents which you think we might be interested in, please contact us at either the Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter, or the North Devon Record Office in Barnstaple.
If the documents are accepted, then please send the documents by post, or bring them to our centre in Exeter or to the record office in Barnstaple, making sure you remember to provide a contact name and address so we can send you an official receipt. If you cannot forward or deliver the records to us, we may be able to collect them from you.
A copy of the terms and conditions of deposit is available on request.
What We Don’t Collect
We only collect archives that have a strong link to Devon. If you have non-Devon archives that you would like to deposit, we can advise you where would be most suitable.
We can currently only handle some types of digital records.
Ownership of the Records
Archives can be deposited with us either as a gift or a loan.
Records that are deposited as a gift will legally belong to Devon County Council, and be managed by the South West Heritage Trust.
Depositing records on long-term loan means you still own the records, but the South West Heritage Trust is the custodian, and cares for them on your behalf. Parish and Parish Council records are always deposited on loan. Records that are loans can be borrowed back if necessary (for example for an exhibition or anniversary celebration), and you have the option to be contacted if there are requests to publish material from your collection.
Please note that copyright ownership is a separate issue, and not always the same as ownership of a physical document.
The Deposit Process
Please contact us before bringing in records or sending them to us. Telephone 01392 888700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are depositing records in person, come to the reception at the Devon Heritage Centre. Please see our Directions page for information about how to find us. We have a free car park and can help you bring in records from your car. If you have a large quantity of records we may direct you to our loading bay. A member of staff will go through the records with you, and then you will fill in a temporary receipt form together. This form contains your contact details, details about the records, details of any records that need to have restricted access, and whether the deposit is a gift or loan. You will be given a copy of this form to take home with you.
We will re-box the records in acid-free boxes and folders so it does not matter too much what you put them in to transport them here. However, please make sure the records are in a reasonable understandable order. Please make sure the records are dry and insect-free, and let us know about any mould or other damage to them.
We will accession the records so that we have a complete record of the deposit, and will send you a formal receipt. This will give you the details of the reference numbers that have been given to your collection.
If we can, we will catalogue the records soon after deposit and send you a copy of the catalogue.
If you have to deposit records by post, we strongly advise you to use a courier or a ‘signed-for’ service. Our address is:
Devon Heritage Centre, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Exeter, EX2 7NL
North Devon Record Office, Barnstaple Library, Tuly Street, Barnstaple, EX31 1EL
Records Containing Sensitive or Confidential Information
Once the records have been listed, the catalogue will become available on our online catalogue. At this point, unless the records need to be kept confidential for any reason, the collection will then be available for researchers to consult in our searchroom. Unless there are particular reasons why your collection should not be made available to the general public, anyone who is a registered user of the Devon Heritage Centre or North Devon Record Office will be able to look at your record. All of our users have to abide by the searchroom rules, a copy of which is available on request.
If you would like access to any of your records to be restricted for personal reasons, please let us know at the time of deposit. We cannot accept records that we are never allowed to make available to the public, but we can restrict access to records for certain periods of time. Some depositors already have guidelines that state their records should be closed for a set number of years.
Many of our records contain information that is governed by the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, and we have systems in place to deal with this. Please ask staff for more information, should you require.
There is no charge for depositing records as gifts, although as a charitable trust we welcome all donations towards the cost of caring for the collection. If records deposited on loan are withdrawn at short notice, we may levy a charge to cover our costs.
What Should Be Kept
There are several useful guides as to which records should be deposited with an archive, which should be kept within the organisation and which can be destroyed. Please follow the links below to find our more:
Depositing Digital Records
Digital records need to be deposited and cared for in the same way as physical records. Preserving digital records provides different and new challenges from paper records.
A specialised digital preservation system is needed for their long-term care and to make them available for public use. Our Guidelines for depositing digital records Guidelines for depositing digital records explain which types of digital records we can currently accept for long-term preservation in our digital preservation system.
Donations to the West Country Studies Library
We are happy to accept donations of books and related items which will be added to the West Country Studies Library. The donations will legally belong to Devon County Council, and be managed by the South West Heritage Trust.
We can only accept items relating to Devon which come to us as an outright gift; for practical purposes we cannot accept loans. Donations are catalogued and labelled and shelved either in our searchroom for general public consultation, or stored in purpose-built strongrooms, from which they can be requested. If you have any items you would like to be considered for the library, please contact us on 01392 888700 or email email@example.com.
We are keen to receive records from individuals, businesses, solicitors, churches, clubs and societies, official bodies, families and estates. The successful preservation of Devon’s written heritage depends upon an effective partnership between the creators or owners of records, and the South West Heritage Trust as their official custodian.
If you have any further questions, please contact us.