Questions about the collections
Using the catalogue
My family member worked at Sainsbury’s. What employment records does the archive hold?
Some staff registers from the 1890s to the 1920s have been digitised and can be found here. However, the records are incomplete and particularly from the 1940s onwards are very limited.
The staff magazine ‘JS Journal’, first published in 1946, records promotions, retirements, long-service awards and occasionally marriages between members of staff - it is fully searchable, please see below for details.
I have material relating to Sainsbury’s at home. Can I donate it?
We are happy to receive donations of material that we don’t already have and that is relevant to the collection. Please get in touch with us to discuss what you would like to donate. We are unable to accept anything that has not been previously agreed.
I have found an old item made by Sainsbury’s. Can you tell me when it is from?
If we have the same item in the archive you can check the catalogue as most entries will include a date. You can also compare the design of similar products.
The current Sainsbury's logo was introduced in 1999, although some items could still have an old design of packaging for a few years after this. The company name on the address is also a clue. Before March 1982 it was J Sainsbury Ltd, afterwards it was J Sainsbury plc. At some point the name on packaging changed again to Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd.
Other things to look out for are prices (decimalisation happened in February 1971, so items with prices in shillings and old pence predate this) and barcodes (which were not common until the early 1980s). On items after about 1989 there is generally a design date code which shows when the packaging design was made or last modified. It's usually next to the barcode.
I am looking for a specific recipe published by Sainsbury’s.
If you would like to browse instead, most of them can be found in one of the following series: Recipe Cards, Customer Promotional Material and Family Circle Recipe Cards. [NB the latter two will be available in late 2020.]
Recipes that were published in ‘Sainsbury’s The Magazine’ are not available on the website but the archive team may be able to find them for you.
I remember working/shopping in a branch that you have photos of!
We hope that many of our digitised images will bring back memories for people. You can share them with us and other users of the website by using the ‘Share Your Memories’ button underneath each image.
I have come across some objectionable content in one of the staff magazines.
Sainsbury Archive has digitised and made available the full collection of the staff magazine (‘JS Journal’/‘The Journal’). The content of these magazines reflects the attitudes of their time, which in some instances includes aspects we recognise as offensive or demeaning and we are working to ensure all offensive material is highlighted. Whilst the Sainsbury Archive has retained this content as part of a complete record, since altering it would compromise the Archive’s historical integrity and context, The Sainsbury Archive and J Sainsbury Plc do not endorse any offensive or discriminatory views that are explicitly or implicitly expressed within these historic materials
We have highlighted offensive material at item level (in the description of the individual issue of the Journal) - if you come across any instances where we have not done so please let us know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The archive includes a photo I have copyright of.
We have attempted to establish the copyright of every image published on the website. If you believe that your content has been used in a way that infringes your copyright please contact us at email@example.com. Please also see details of our Copyright and Reproducing Content Policy.
I am a journalist/author and would like to use photos from the archive in my work.
We are happy to help with such requests. Please email us with details of the specific images you would like to use (include the reference number or link to that image on our website). We can then check whether it is possible for us to licence the image to you. For reasons of copyright there may be some images we are unable to licence.
Please also provide us with the full details of where you wish to publish the image (name of publications, websites and social media services) and date of publication. We require the archive to be credited and will supply details for this.
If required for printing we may be able to provide higher resolution images - please contact us to discuss.
I am a member of a local history group and would like to share photos from the archive.
You are welcome to share any image that has a Creative Commons licence as long as it is for non-commercial purposes. You can also share items on social media using the Facebook and Twitter buttons on each item our website.
For any items that do not have a Creative Commons licence or for other purposes, please email us - the same procedures as for authors and journalists (see above) will apply.
Do you have any educational materials available?
We have printable learning resources on food, shopping and working life that are available for free on our website. They were developed by Interference Art together with the Sainsbury Archive and veteran Sainsbury’s staff in memory of Dino Adriano.
In addition, veterans’ stories are featured in short videos which are designed to prompt conversation. They can be watched here.
Can I watch clips of old Sainsbury’s TV adverts?
We currently do not have any adverts available for viewing. However, a number of Sainsbury’s adverts can be watched on the website of the History of Advertising Trust.
I would like to buy something from you.
We do not sell anything held by the archive.
I found a ‘photograph’ in the catalogue but I can’t see an image.
Not every entry in the archive catalogue has an image associated with it. This might be because we have not digitised a particular item or because we don’t have the right to display it on the website. Please get in touch with us – we may be able to provide you with an image or you can visit the Study Centre to consult the item itself.
How can I browse the whole collection?
There are two options for viewing the content of the whole archive at once:
You can use the ‘explore’ view to see the different categories and subjects covered by the collection. Clicking on each of them will show you the contents.
You can also see a clickable structured contents list (what we call a ‘tree structure’) by clicking on ‘Open Tree’ on the left-hand side of any catalogue entry. This will show you the context of the item you are looking at within the archive as a whole. You can use it to find other items in the same or similar categories.
I am looking for old issues of ‘JS Journal’.
We have digitised all issues of Sainsbury’s staff magazine ‘JS Journal’ (later called ‘The Journal’). You can browse them by year here or search specifically for 'JS Journal’ articles by selecting the option from the catalogue search bar.
How can I combine multiple searches?
The catalogue search works a little differently to other searches you might be used to. You cannot use operators such as ‘AND’ or a minus sign. Instead, click on the plus sign next to the search box to add additional search criteria. To exclude a term, select ‘None of the words’ from the drop-down menu.
How can I find words that contain diacritics?
Due to a technical problem it is currently not possible to search using diacritics. Please use the letters without accents, umlauts etc. For example, ‘cafe’ will find ‘café’, ‘Gewurztraminer’ will find ‘Gewürztraminer’.
How can I narrow down the date range of my search results?
The slider above the catalogue search bar shows the date range covered by the search. By moving the ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ sliders you can customise the dates to be shown. The results will update automatically. The vertical white bars on the slider represent the number of items in each year. The taller they are the more material can be found.
How can I find addresses and dates of branches?
The branches page allows you to search for branches by typing a name into the search bar or by clicking and zooming on the map. Clicking on a branch’s icon will bring up its address and opening and closing dates on the left-hand side of the screen. Clicking on ‘View Branch’ will then show you all related images we have of this branch.