Local History Library and Archives

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives holds outstanding and unique resources on the history of London’s world famous East End.

We cover the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which was created from the former Metropolitan Boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney.

Visit us

Visit us at our Grade II listed library building, that dates from 1860, conveniently located in Mile End. For all our information and updates visit our website and search our online catalogue.

Library and archive collection

Stored on hundreds of linear metres of mobile shelving in our climate-controlled strongroom, the archive collections are spread across a variety of formats, from medieval parchment to digital audio and video.

We're here to welcome you if you’re interested in the history of a street or building, tracing your ancestors who lived in the borough, doing a school or college project or just feeling nostalgic.

We have an extraordinary range of:

  • original documents
  • photographs and other images
  • rare publications
  • reference books
  • press cuttings
  • maps
  • and films

Information on popular subjects

Our library and archives house a wealth of information on key subjects including:

  • migration and communities
  • local industries and political movements
  • the changing local landscape and lived experiences of individuals within Tower Hamlets

Resources and services available

Whether visiting us online or onsite you can:

  • Search the catalogue descriptions of our library and archive collections
  • Access original library and archive material in our Reading Room
  • View our Digital Gallery of images
  • Get copies of documents
  • Explore Digital Resources
  • Visit our shop for publications
  • Enjoy exhibitions inspired by the collections
  • Attend a range of events for all ages
  • Book a workshop with us for your students, community or youth group
  • Partner with us on heritage projects
  • Hire our Ground Floor Education Room
  • Help us build our collections by depositing books, documents and images
  • Support our activities by volunteering with us