The Orkney Archive includes a wide range of records such as those of the local authority and its preceding bodies; the sheriff and justice of the peace courts; customs and excise; presbytery and kirk session records. The gifts and deposits section includes family and estate papers, those of local businesses and organisations, and the papers of prominent Orcadians like Robert Rendall, Ernest Marwick and Stanley Cursiter. Census schedules, Parish registers and local newspapers are all available on microfilm.
The Sound Archive comprises of an extensive collection of oral history recordings.
The Photographic Archive was founded in 1976 with a priceless gift of over 6000 glass plate negatives donated by Mrs Barbara Walls. The photographs were the work of Tom Kent, who worked as a photographer in Orkney from 1898 until his death in 1936.
The Photographic Archive is of immeasurable social and historical importance, both locally and nationally, since it records changes that were occurring throughout the country as well as in Orkney. The images depict changes taking place in the working and social lifes of Orkney's people; the switch from horse drawn transport to motor driven vehicles; the introdustion of the first air service to the islands; the changes in farming methods; the effects of two World Wars and the huge influx of military personnel as well as industries that have largely disappeared and many more subjects.
The Photographic Archive has expanded regularly since that time with the acquisition of works by many other local photographers and now holds in excess of 50,000 images relating to Orkney and it's people, from the nineteenth century up to recent times.
The Photographic Archive can supply prints from the collection, up to 50.8 x 40.64 cm (20 x 16 inches). The prices for these can be found on their website.