Tips for successful researching

Look at our selection of research guides

Find out if your topic is covered in a research guide. If there is, it'll give you a good idea of what records to start with.

Visit our catalogues

You can pick up a lot of information from our online catalogue and digital collections, but don't expect them to be like Google. A simple keyword search won't always work. We highly recommend you read our searching guidance before you start.

Do some research before you come

Read some published books first for ideas or talk to relatives if you're doing your family history.

Check our list of potentially relevant collections

If you visit the Links to non-TfL Collections webpage, you'll find some archives and repositories with collections that may interest or be useful to you.

Bring a pencil

Ink is not allowed near the records in archives.

Make sure to take full citations for the materials you're viewing

That includes any unique identification assigned to the materials by the Archives such as the archive reference number, collection title, etc.

If you need to refer back to those materials, or if another researcher wants to track your sources from a published work, this will help the archivist to locate the documents.

Point out corrections

Sometimes an error or omission appears in finding aids, websites, and descriptions of materials.

If you notice some of these errors or are an expert in a particular area and can fill in some information gaps, point those out to the archival staff.

To support your corrections, cite another authoritative source if you can.

Bring plenty of patience and tenacity with you

Researching can take a long time.

Recognise the limitations and potential of the archive

You may not find exactly what you're looking for, but you could find new sources you didn't know existed.

You can also read our tips for how to search our catalogues.