Letter from Kew's Archives

Using the Archives

The Archives contain the official records of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the papers of many botanists, gardeners and other individuals.

The Archives form a valuable resource on the history of the discovery, study, transfer and use of the world's plants and fungi. There are over 7 million sheets of paper in 4,600 archival collections.

Library, Art & Archives is the approved place of deposit for official records under Public Records legislation, and records are available for consultation once they are 30 years old.

Search our Archive Catalogue

Visiting the Archives

If you need to visit the Archives to consult original material, we currently require 48 hours notice so that we can locate and prepare items ahead of your arrival. Please email or phone the Archives team in order to arrange a visit.

The Archives can be consulted in the Reading Room, which is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. See Visiting the Library Reading Room (pdf) for information about our location, and the conditions for visitors. When consulting archival material, please take notes in pencil only. There are power points and WiFi available for use of laptops and tablets.

Ordering copies and photographs

We can provide copies of certain materials in the Archives according to copyright regulations. However, please note that in line with our preservation policy we will assess each item individually. However, many documents have been microfilmed and we can therefore provide paper copies from the microfilm. Please see Photocopying and photographyfor more details.

If you request copies remotely, we will send you a quote for the total cost, and a copyright form to complete and return before we make the copies. Upon receipt of payment, we will send you the copies via email or post. We accept cheques and credit cards in Pounds Sterling only.

Readers can take their own digital photographs in the Reading Room on completion of the Self Service Declaration Form.

We can also arrange for our in-house Media Resources section to photograph items from the Archives. This is particularly applicable for items required for publication or which are too large for the Archives to photograph. Pleasecontact us for details of costs.

Contact us

If you have an enquiry about information we might hold, or know that you would like to consult items in our Archives, please contact us.

The Archives
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Surrey TW9 3AE

Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5417
Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 5430
Email: archives@kew.org

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here you can find the answer to frequently asked questions about Kew's Archives.

Family history enquiries

Library, Art & Archives hold a certain amount of information about former staff and students, and we receive a large number of enquiries in this area.

Please put your enquiry in writing if possible, and include as much information as you can. The most important facts are the employee's full name, the dates when he or she might have been working at Kew, and their occupation, if known.

Because the sources are varied and sometimes incomplete, we are not always able to confirm that an individual worked at Kew. This does not necessarily mean that he or she did not, merely that we cannot find any written evidence in our collections.

Private garden history enquiries

We have very little information about the gardens of private individuals in the Archives at Kew, chiefly because our collections are primarily botanical (rather than horticultural) in content.

More about using the Archives

Archive contents and research

Find out what is in Kew's Archives, how we can help with your research, and how you can donate relevant archival material.

History of Kew

Find out more about the Kewensia collection and other sources of information on the history of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Using the library

Find out more about the library collections, electronic resources, the history of the library and how to arrange a visit.