Collection

The Sainsbury Archive documents the history of Sainsbury’s from its foundation in Drury Lane in 1869, but also provides a unique record of the transformation that has occurred in retailing since the mid-19th century, and the impact of these changes on society

About the collection

The core of the archive was formed at the time of the company’s centenary in 1969 and has steadily grown to more than 16,000 items, including documents, objects (ranging from food preparation and testing equipment, to product packaging and staff uniforms), photographs and audiovisual material.

The collection includes a large number of photographs and artefacts, and is particularly strong in the areas of product packaging, advertising and retail stores. However, the archive also includes key company records such as reports and accounts and press releases, as well as material relating to all aspects of the business, including head office operations, food supply, production and distribution, subsidiary companies and staff records.

For further details of the archive holdings, see the summary guide.

To browse and search the digital archive of Sainsbury’s in-house magazine JS Journal (now The Journal) from the first issue in December 1946 up to October 2010, visit JS Journal Online (external link).

Using the archive

In April 2003, the Sainsbury Archive became an independent charitable trust; the Sainsbury Study Centre at the Museum of London Docklands provides access to this rich resource for specialist and general research on a wide range of topics including:

  • business and retail history
  • shopping and eating habits
  • architecture and urban development 
  • advertising, display,  packaging and product design
  • local and family history


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