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Archives and Special Collections: Family History Sources: Ushaw College

About the Records

Records of Ushaw College relate to the education and training of men for the priesthood, teaching, and auxiliary staff, at the former Catholic seminary of Ushaw College, four miles west of Durham. These include student registers; ‘reading-up books’ (examination results); clerk of works’ records, and photographs.

The records primarily relate to students and staff at Ushaw College and do not include information on other seminaries.

They do not only contain information on students who were ordained at Ushaw College.  With the foundation of the Junior Seminary in 1856 to the early 1970s, Ushaw was as much a Catholic public school as a seminary, with many parents sending their sons to the College purely for a ‘lay’ education. While it was hoped that these boys would undertake seminary training and become priests once they reached 18 years of age, a large number completed their education and forged careers in other areas.

Most series of records survive from the foundation of Ushaw in 1808 until its closure as a seminary in 2011, though the most recent records are usually closed to access.

Family History Information

Four series of Ushaw College records are most likely to be useful for family historians.

  • Registers include annual class lists with names of students, year of birth, place of origin, and year ordained (if applicable)
  • ‘Reading-Up’ books include termly class lists with each students respective position for each subject following examinations
  • Clerk of Works’ records include lists of names of maintenance and domestic staff, tasks undertaken, and their wages
  • Photographs include some class photographs and names of individual students and staff (if captioned).

Of the above catalogues, only the photograph listings include names of students or staff members, if these were captioned on the photograph.

Availability online (digital images)

These collections have not been digitised, so that only the catalogues are currently available online.

If you would like to purchase digital copies of specific items from any of our collections, please get in touch.

If you are a member of teaching staff at Durham University and would like to use material from Archives and Special Collections within your lectures or seminars, we may be able to scan or photograph items for this purpose.  Please contact us as early as possible with any teaching digitisation requests.

See also our guide to Digitised Collections Online for further information on our digital resources.

Access to original sources

The collections mentioned above are located at Ushaw College Library.  Access to collections at Ushaw is currently limited. Please submit an enquiry form for further details.

See separate web page for further information on Ushaw College Library.