There is an extensive archive collection relating to the local and British glass industry, including items on loan from glass companies. Original archive material is acquired whenever possible and when funds allow. The Museum Service collects pattern books, catalogues, description books, invoices and other paperwork, as well as photographs of factories, workers and their families. These include modern material as well as historic, as the history of the glass industry is constantly changing. Videos and films of glassmaking are also collected.
The pattern books of Thomas Webb and Sons, and Royal Brierley Crystal were acquired when those companies closed, while pattern books from other local companies such as Richardson, Boulton & Mills, J. & J. Northwood, and Smart Brothers have been saved or acquired at auction. Important material is also held on individual artists including Daniel Pearce, Joseph Keller, and George and Thomas Woodall, as well as modern figures such as Alexander Hardie Williamson.
In 2004 the Museum Service was presented with an extraordinary card index containing the names of thousands of individuals connected with glassmaking in the UK, from the 17th to the 19th century. The donor was a gentleman from York named Brian Hardyman, and the index was the result of 30 years' work visiting record offices throughout the country consulting original material such as census returns, parish registers, wills and poor law documents.
In 2001 Brian stopped work on the index and kindly donated the index to the Museum Service in 2004. The index is invaluable to those researching their ancestors who worked in the glass industry. Family historians wishing to use the index should contact the Museum Service to make an appointment. We also recommend contacting DMBC's Archives and Local History Service (see below) who are used to dealing with genealogy enquiries and even offer courses for beginners in tracing their family tree.
The archive material is for reference only and cannot be borrowed. Some archives are held at Himley Hall and booking an appointment is essential if you wish to see material held there. Please contact the Museum Service to do so, do not contact Himley Hall regarding the archives.
Much of the archival material is housed with the Dudley Archives and Local History Service, which is based at Tipton Road, Dudley, and is open to the public.
Please note that some items may be subject to special conditions of access, or they may be too fragile for handling or public viewing. If you are unfamiliar with Dudley Archives and Local History Service, please contact them before making your visit.