The scheme, which will provide a new home for the city archives, the local studies library and the University of Hull's archives, will house letters and speeches by William Wilberforce, and papers of famed local poets Philip Larkin and Andrew Marvell.
To avoid damage from possible flooding, the 7,000m of archive shelving will be built on the raised part of the new two-storey city centre development in Mason Street.
Hull councillor Kalvin Neal, portfolio holder for quality of life and culture, said: 'Once the history centre is complete, it will bring all of the city's local history archival resources under one roof. The people of the city will be able to use it as a kind of 'one-stop history shop' to get answers to all their historical and genealogical questions.'
He added: 'During the recent flooding crisis, attention has rightly focussed on the human cost of the disaster.
'However, it also underlined the critical importance of making provision for the city's heritage, similarly at risk from flood damage.
'The history centre will store the archives and local studies material at first-floor level, safely out of the way of any future rising water.'
Work is expected to start before the end of the year and the centre is expected to open to the public in 2009.