The collections at Suffolk Archives are packed with things that can support learning and bring history to life. Using sources from the archives enables us to make learning personal to your students and the places where they live, and provides opportunities for students to ask questions, and seek out the answers.

As part of our National Lottery-supported project, we are developing a range of resources and sessions for primary and secondary schools, alongside the development of our new building, The Hold.

The resources on these pages are all free for teachers to download, and they are fully editable so you can tailor them to your students.

If there is a topic you would like to use archive material for but which is currently available here, please get in touch with us on [email protected]

Time Capsule Competition

Help us to celebrate education in Suffolk during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations at the Suffolk Show

How has your school and community changed over the past seven decades? Schools are invited to create a time capsule to show how their school has changed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The finalists will be showcased at the 2022 School Farm and Country Fair and at the Suffolk Show’s “Suffolk – The Platinum Years” display area, where you will also be able to see a classroom from 1952 – no white boards or tablets!

Loan boxes

Toys Through Time

Three vintage teddy bears. All are a golden-brown colour, one has a maroon ribbon around his neck tied in a bow.

Loan boxes containing a collection of real and replica historic and vintage toys, from the Victorian era to the 1990s. They are designed to be used with children in EYFS and Key Stage 1.

House and Home

Our First World War resources are full of digitised images and documents which show how the war affected life in Suffolk. These resources could be used with all students from KS2 onwards.

Downloadable resources

Crime and punishment

Sepia photograph of a group of boys aged about 9-14 in front of a brick wall with a door and a window in it. The boys are dressed in trousers, waistcoats, and long jackets, but many of their outfits look too big for them, and they have a slightly scruffy air.

KS2 upwards – explore the links between crime and poverty for children in Victorian society using primary source material from Suffolk’s reform School.

Making sense of the census

Example of a census page, with people's information written by hand into columns on a pre-printed sheet

KS2 upwards – find out how you can find and use these incredibly useful documents to explore life in Victorian England. Includes a sample Maths activity.

Making an oral history recording

A photo taken over a person's shoulder, who is holding a digital recorder in their hands

All ages – making and then working with an oral history is fantastic for working on listening, speaking, and questioning skills.

First World War

Black and white photo of a large group of smiling First World War soldiers crowded outside a bay window as food is passed out to them.

KS2 upwards – our First World War resources are full of digitised images and documents which show how the war affected life in Suffolk.

Second World War

Seven Air Raid Wardens in a shelter. Six a men, one is a woman. One of the men holds up a wooden air raid rattle and smiles cheerfully.

KS2 upwards – access photographs and oral histories that tell the stories of VE Day 1945 across Suffolk.

Thomas Clarkson

KS3 upwards – use original sources to explore Thomas Clarkson’s life and ideas, and where he fits within wider abolition movements.

Women’s suffrage

KS3 upwards – immerse your students in the stories of the women who fought for the right to vote, with original sources providing a ring-side seat at dramatic moments in the campaign.

Victorian seaside holidays

KS1 and KS2 – find out what the Victorians did at the seaside, make your own bathing machine, write a postcard home, and more.

North East Suffolk local histories

KS2 upwards – resources for studying the history of Beccles, Somerleyton Hall, and the Lowestoft fishing industry.

Online games and downloads

Play online jigsaw puzzles made from images from our collections

Free downloadable colouring sheets made with images from our collections


We have three branches which schools can visit, in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft. On a visit, students would be able to see real historical documents, and how we look after them for present and future generations. If you would like to discuss a visit, please contact us on [email protected]

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Comments from students after a Suffolk Archives session

It was so cool how she had things from back in the past.

I enjoyed learning about the pictures of our school a long time ago. I also enjoyed looking at the difference between things in the present day and things in the past.

I enjoyed learning about our school’s history, because I like the feeling I get when I know that I am sitting right where other children say many years ago, doing similar things to what they did.

I like[d] seeing what’s changed… I found out a lot.