In the United Kingdom (and particularly in England and Wales) the term county record office usually refers to a local authority repository, also called a County Archives. Such repositories employ specialist staff to administer and conserve the historic and the semi-current records of the parent body. They usually also preserve written materials from a great variety of independent local organisations, churches and schools, prominent families and their estates, businesses, solicitors' offices and ordinary private individuals. Archives may have been acquired either through donation or (more generally) by deposit on long-term loan. Local authorities in certain larger cities sometimes administer their own separate city record office, operating along similar lines. Archive repositories are frequently – but by no means exclusively – used by local and family historians for the purposes of original research, since many records can very often have a continuing administrative or legal significance.

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