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Peterloo remembered in free online course

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 05:30

Original records held by The National Archives will feature in a free-to-join online course examining the Peterloo Massacre.

Registration is now open for ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalism and Reform in the 19th Century’. The course will uncover a century-long struggle for rights and representation, from the Peterloo Massacre to the campaign for women’s suffrage in Britain.

Launching on 12 August, the course will take four weeks to complete and requires four hours of study a week. Learners will have the opportunity to see original artefacts and documents as well as compelling historical testimony and speeches. Resources will be accompanied by expert guidance from historians, archivists and curators.

The project has been developed by People’s History Museum and Royal Holloway, University of London and as well as material from The National Archives, it also features material from collections held by the History of Parliament Trust and Parliamentary Archives. It has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

To join the course, please visit FutureLearn.

If you would like to hear more about the Peterloo Massacre, join Dr Jaqueline Riding, historian for Mike Leigh’s film Peterloo, and records specialists Dr George Hay and Chris Day for a talk at The National Archives on 13 August. Tickets are available here.

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New learning spaces for the historians of tomorrow

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 09:47

We will shortly begin construction of two major new learning spaces within our first floor reading rooms.

One space will be located next to the library, while the other will occupy part of the existing document reading room here at Kew.

Caroline Ottaway-Searle, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archives, said ‘This project is part of our ongoing programme to re-imagine and reconfigure our site to become a more vibrant and welcoming environment, better equipped to deliver services and events for a wider range of visitors.

‘These new spaces will provide us with improved facilities for children, young people, students and learners of all ages to engage with and learn about our collection.’

Visitors may experience some disruption over the next few weeks as we carry out preparatory works, continuing as construction begins in the autumn. We will try to keep this to a minimum, but some disturbance is inevitable. The works are due to be completed by spring 2020.

Library users may experience some disruption to services from early August while the collection is re-arranged in preparation for the construction works.

Some books, journals and resources may be temporarily relocated but will remain available upon request. Other collections, such as the National Register of Archives paper lists, will be unavailable during this period although the register remains available to search through our catalogue Discovery.

More detailed updates on the affected collections will be available on our library page throughout the project.

In the document reading room, 72 seats (nine tables) will be temporarily removed, along with some camera stands. Almost 300 seats will remain available in this area.

Several phases of the programme have already been completed, including the redevelopment of the public restaurant and the creation of a large multi-purpose events space.

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Collaborate and Innovate archive fund launched

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 05:56

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new funding programme for the archive sector titled Collaborate and Innovate.

The programme will empower archives to develop creative ideas and collaborative approaches through two funding schemes. The first scheme, the Archive Testbed Fund, will provide micro grants of up to £5,000 to archives who want to explore, pilot or evolve an innovative idea that may lead to positive change for the archive. Importantly, the funded archives will be able to experiment without fear of failure and their learning outcomes will be shared for the wider sector to use.

The second scheme is the Networks for Change Fund, which will award grants of up to £15,000 to groups of archives wanting to start a new network, strengthen an existing partnership or undertake a network development project. Strong networks contribute to an efficient and resilient archive sector and help archives improve many aspects of their service, including skills, access, engagement and value for money.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Collections and Research at The National Archives, said: ‘I am delighted with the launch of the Collaborate and Innovate funding programme which will provide archives with the crucial freedom to explore innovative ideas and work together in new ways. This ability to be bold will lead to outcomes that will make a real difference to archives in the UK.’

Both the Archive Testbed Fund and Networks for Change Fund will work on a rolling basis so applications can be submitted at any time.

• To find out more, visit the Collaborate and Innovate webpages.

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Summer at The National Archives

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 12:44

This Summer at The National Archives you might be surprised by what you discover.

Just 10 minutes’ walk from Kew Gardens station, our beautiful wildlife, free Cold War exhibition, fun-packed family activities, BBQs and ice cream await.

First Sundays

We are free to visit and open Tuesday to Saturday and the first Sunday of the month. Join us on Sunday 4 August and Sunday 1 September for our next Sunday openings, from 11.00 – 16.00 Please note that the reading rooms and library are closed on First Sundays.

Family activities

School’s out and we’re here all summer with a fun-packed programme of family-friendly activities.

Check out the Time Travel Club events, drop in to a creative Craft Club session or pick up a free activity pack when you visit.

Free family trail – My Grandad: The Spy

Find clues, break codes and keep undercover in this secret mission, suitable for the whole family.

This interactive game requires a smart phone to take part. Booking essential.


Our Cold War exhibition provides an immersive and fascinating take on life in Britain during a turbulent era. Free to visit and open until 9 November 2019 #ColdWarSeason


Our What’s On programme features an exciting line-up of talks and events that showcase over 1,000 years of historic records.

Dine al fresco

With an outdoor terrace and balcony seating, enjoy coffee and lunch in a peaceful setting. We’ll be firing up the BBQ every Thursday this summer (weather permitting!) or you can opt for a cooler treat from our ice cream cart instead.

Share what you discover:


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Read our annual report and accounts 2018-19

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 06:07

The 16th annual report and accounts for The National Archives are now available online, where you can read about our highlights during 2018-19 and the completion of our four-year strategy.


Read more in the full report

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Prime Minister’s papers from 1995 released

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 09:05

Today we have released files from the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office, predominantly covering the years 1994 – 1995 but with some files from the 1950s and 1960s.

The newly released Cabinet Office files (CAB and PREM) shed light on a range of subjects both at home and abroad under John Major’s leadership.

The files are available to view in the public reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew. A selection of files have been digitised and can be viewed and downloaded using our catalogue, Discovery.

Domestically, the files cover issues such as metrication (PREM 19/5119), the refurbishment and reconstruction of No. 10 Downing Street in the 1950s and 60s (PREM 11/5226 and PREM 11/5231) and the launch of the National Lottery (PREM 19/5082 and PREM 19/5083)

Internationally, there are various files relating to UK relations with Romania (PREM 19/4952), Russia (PREM 19/4970), Sierra Leone (PREM 19/4988) and South Africa (PREM 19/4996 – 5000).

You can also find out more about our previous file releases.

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Newly accredited archive services

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 04:46

The UK Archive Service Accreditation Committee is pleased to announce that the following archive services were awarded Archive Service Accreditation at a recent panel meeting, meaning there are now over 150 accredited archive services:

  • Brent Museum Archives
  • Historic England Archive
  • Modern Records Centre: Warwick University
  • The National Library of Scotland

Accredited archive services have successfully demonstrated that they meet the UK standard around resourcing, collections management and providing access to collections. They include business archives, specialist repositories, university archives, and local authority archive services.

Archive Sector Accreditation is supported by a partnership of the Archives and Records Association (UK), Archives and Records Council Wales, National Records of Scotland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Scottish Council on Archives, The National Archives and the Welsh Government through its Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales division.

Find out more about Archive Service Accreditation here and see the full list of accredited archive services here.

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The National Archives announces first Artist in Residence

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 08:54

We are delighted to announce that Michael Takeo Magruder will be our first ever Artist in Residence. A renowned artist and researcher, Michael will be tasked with translating The National Archives’ rich digital data sources into thought-provoking and beautiful artworks and installations.

With a vast portfolio of innovative art projects and proven track record in working with digital collections, Michael is well placed to highlight our ongoing work in digital development, as outlined in our new strategy Archives for Everyone. His work involves real-time data, digital archives and immersive environments and has been showcased in over 290 exhibitions in 35 countries.

Caroline Ottaway-Searle, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archives, said: “We look forward to working with Michael to illustrate our digital assets in a way that has never been done before. As our first Artist in Residence, Michael will create a bespoke piece of art that anyone can engage with, inspiring conversations around what makes a 21st century archive.”

The initial artist residency will start in August 2019, with Michael developing the installation concept. This will be followed by a six month art exhibition running from March 2020.

More details will be announced later this year.

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TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame award

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 10:03

We are pleased to announce that The National Archives has achieved TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame award.

The TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence honours hospitality businesses and cultural sites that deliver consistently great service. This designation is presented to businesses that maintain a rating of at least four out of five – approximately 10% of total businesses on the site.

Organisations that have received a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years qualify for the Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame.

This means we have consistently been rated in the top 10% of all TripAdvisor businesses over the last five years.

We are open to the public from Tuesday – Saturday and on the first Sunday of every month.

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Archives Revealed grant awards announced

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:03

The Archives Revealed funding programme has awarded a total of £300,000 to nine archives across the UK for cataloguing projects.

The scheme, which we support with The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation, provides cataloguing grants of up to £40,000 allowing archives to open up their collections to researchers and communities.

Three additional archives were also awarded £3,000 grants for scoping studies with the aim of increasing public engagement with the UK’s rich documentary history. These scoping grants allow organisations to understand the significance of their archive and to take the first steps towards making their collection accessible through an assessment report incorporating expert advice on a range of areas relating to collections management and development.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said: ‘Cataloguing is the key to revealing archival material that can be used in countless ways by individuals and communities.

‘Today we are delighted to announce funding for the cataloguing of nine highly significant and diverse collections, enabling greater access to our collective heritage and allowing people to gain a deeper insight into the past.’

Georgina Nayler, Director of The Pilgrim Trust, said: ‘The Pilgrim Trust is proud to support the cataloguing of nine inspiring archive collections through the Archives Revealed programme.

‘The archival material that they contain will be valuable to both researchers and the public and we are looking forward to seeing wider audiences engage with these newly available collections.’

The successful cataloguing grant applicants are:

  • Barnsley Archives and Local Studies for ‘All manner of  ‘All manner of wickedness’ £29,500
  • Glamorgan Archives for ‘Time and Tide: Revealing the history of Cardiff’ £37,996
  • Durham County Record Office for ‘Durham Light Infantry  – The Whole Story’ £38,734
  • Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives for ‘The Aberdeen Harbour Board Collection: Navigating Aberdeen’s History’ £39,145
  • The University of Sheffield for ‘The Blunkett Archives’ £20,178
  • Berkshire Records Office for ‘Liquid Assets’ £38,866
  • Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, Heritage Services, Wiltshire Council for ‘Breaking the Mould: The Spencer Moulton and Dr Alex Moulton Archives’ £39,000
  • Leeds University Library Special Collections for ‘The figure in the carpet: Discovering Herbert Read and his cultural networks’ £31,580
  • The National Trust for ‘The Edward Chambre Hardman Photographic Archive – Cataloguing, Conservation and Digitisation’ £25,000

The successful scoping grant applicants are:

  • New Contemporaries
  • The Union Chapel
  • Museum of London Docklands

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New partner for DCDC conference series

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 05:44

Along with Research Libraries UK, we can today announce that Jisc will be joining us as a partner in the organisation and delivery of the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities (DCDC) conference series.

In the spirit of collaboration which defines DCDC, all of the partners look forward to ensuring that the conference continues to break new ground, challenge assumptions, and share best practice across the library, archive, heritage and academic communities.

The DCDC conference series is one of the largest cross-sector heritage conferences in the UK and sees archivists, librarians, heritage professionals, and academics exploring ways of enhancing cross-sector collaboration between professional communities during a time of great change.

Attracting more than 400 delegates each year, individual DCDC conferences bring together speakers and delegates from across the UK, Europe, and internationally, to explore a range of issues, from the impact of collections to digital transformation.

Paul Feldman, Chief Executive of Jisc, said: ‘The DCDC conference is unique in the way it brings together practitioners from universities, libraries, archives, museums and galleries to share their expertise and their enthusiasm for curating collections.

‘All these sectors face evolving digital challenges and Jisc is delighted to now be working alongside RLUK and The National Archives to design and deliver the DCDC conference series.

‘We will be looking to blend the strengths of all three organisations to ensure that the event continues to deliver maximum value to the community.’

The 2019 DCDC Conference will be held on 12-14 November in Birmingham, on the theme of ‘Navigating the digital shift: practices and possibilities’.

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New planning guidance for archives and libraries

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 05:30

Today we have published guidance with Arts Council England on public libraries and archives advocating within local authority planning. The guide is designed to help anyone working within or alongside library and archive services to better understand the national planning context, local planning processes, and developer contribution schemes. By improving knowledge in these areas, archive and library professionals will be able to champion their organisations in future neighbourhood planning activities.

Along with the Arts Council, we want to see archives and libraries continuing to be part of local infrastructure development decisions. By collaborating and engaging in the planning process, libraries and archives can be a voice in decision-making shaping towns, cities and villages across England. Equally, in a period of limited funding, it is important for archives and libraries to engage with the latest developer contribution schemes outlined in this guidance, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106.

The guidance also reflects recent changes to planning frameworks and provides the most up-to-date insight into potential opportunities for both archives and libraries. Case studies are used to illustrate how archives and libraries have successfully engaged with local authority planning to realise benefits for themselves and the communities they serve.

We will work strategically with the library and archive sectors to support colleagues at both pragmatic and strategic levels. Crucially, the guidance serves as a springboard from which both sectors can work in partnership to undertake high level advocacy, engage with key stakeholders, and raise awareness of the contribution archives and libraries can make to local planning issues.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said: ‘Archives and libraries share a common ground in their work to create better places to live. By working together and extending our knowledge of planning, archives and libraries will be able to play an even greater role in the development of their local areas.

The guidance is available to view here.

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The National Archives rebrands for the first time in 16 years

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 07:00

To mark our commitment to wider public engagement, we have refreshed our brand to introduce a new visual identity created by multi-disciplinary designers HemingwayDesign.

Caroline Ottaway-Searle, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archives, said: ‘Widening our audiences is a key part of The National Archives’ strategy, Archives for Everyone. To reinforce this we are introducing a new visual identity which works impactfully across channels. We chose to work with HemingwayDesign because they demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to our ambition to open up access to the archives.’

Wayne Hemingway, partner at HemingwayDesign, said: ‘Design is about improving things that matter in life and The National Archives definitely matters! It’s a national organisation of real social, historical and cultural importance; fascinating and complex. Our creative response to this was to create a new identity which is intentionally simple to allow for the content of the archives to speak for itself.’

The new identity draws upon a flexible grid system inspired by grids seen across the archival system from record slips and boxes of documents to the architecture on site at Kew – and three core typefaces which can be varied across media. The logo ‘mark’, a box with lettering within, is akin to the official ‘stamp’ marking items in The National Archives collection. The new identity can now be seen in the header and footer across most of our website, including our newly published strategy, Archives for Everyone 2019-23.

Wayne Hemingway will be speaking about the challenge of rebranding The National Archives at a forthcoming talk as part of London Festival of Architecture.

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Cold War on File: A new resource for students

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 11:04

The Online Education team at The National Archives has launched Cold War on File, a brand new online education resource comprising nearly 50 documents, maps and photographs, alongside transcripts and notes for teachers.

The new resource aims to enable students to develop their own lines of historical enquiry on the Cold War. It covers a range of themes including the wartime alliance, potential causes of the Cold War, and Britain in the nuclear age. Highlights include an extract from Klaus Fuchs’ confession, transcripts of a conversation about Cuba between President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and extracts from Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech.

It is accompanied by an introduction from Mark Dunton, Principal Records Specialist at The National Archives, who said: “Many narratives are available for the Cold War: it is the subject of many books, documentaries and films. However, this package of documents shows us that archives still have the capacity to surprise us about this period in history.”

The launch coincides with The National Archives’ Cold War Season, with a free exhibition ‘Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed’ running until November.

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Volunteers required for our User Advisory Group

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 11:00

Would you like to represent the views of archive users and help to improve The National Archives’ services? If you are a regular archive user then we would love to hear from you.

We are seeking new voluntary representatives to join our User Advisory Group (UAG).

The User Advisory Group aims to give people who use our services the opportunity to participate in The National Archives’ planning and decision making processes.

Delegates represent ‘the voice’ of different sections of our user community, not only their own interests. As well as attending meetings each delegate has a responsibility to engage with members of their user communities, to share information and gather feedback.

We would particularly like to hear from users who feel they could effectively represent the following user group:

  • On site personal interest – particularly those interested in areas other than genealogy

Representatives will also need to demonstrate they have the qualities to actively participate in the group, including:

  • Willingness to express the views of their communities in the setting of a large meeting
  • Time to prepare for meetings, including reading papers and networking
  • Ability to see the ‘bigger picture’

Meetings are held at The National Archives in Kew four times a year, usually on Tuesdays during working hours. Dates and times are published well in advance and delegates are expected to make every effort to attend. We ask prospective delegates to commit to a minimum term of one year’s service.

Find out more about the groups already represented, current delegates and how to submit an expression of interest via the UAG pages.

How to submit an expression of interest

If you would like to express interest in representing one of the groups listed above, please email us at the address below with the following information:

  • Indicate in the subject line of your email that it is an expression of interest
  • Indicate which sections(s) of the user community you would like to represent; if you list more than one, please rank them in order of preference
  • Check the list of the sections of the user community which are already represented; if you feel that there is a group that we have not listed, and that you would like to represent, please specify this
  • Tell us about your experience as an archive user and why you feel that you would be suitable as a delegate (please write no more than 150 words)
  • Give examples to show that you have the personal qualities required as a delegate of UAG (please write no more than 150 words)
  • Indicate your ideas and suggestions for how you would disseminate details of the group to the user community or communities that you would be representing, and how you would gather feedback (please write no more than 150 words)

Delegates will be selected based upon the information provided.

Please email your expression of interest to

The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 21 June at 17:00.

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The National Archives awarded PhD studentships by Arts and Humanities Research Council

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 04:27

We are delighted to announce that The National Archives is one of 14 leading institutions and consortia to be awarded an allocation of PhD studentships under the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships programme.

As part of the programme – now in its third round – we have been allocated three studentships per year, for three years, starting from 2020.

Since its launch in 2012, the programme has helped over 500 students to gain vital research and training experience, beyond the higher education setting. Through the programme we will engage with universities, supporting the next generation of PhD students to advance arts and humanities research, and contribute to innovation in archival practice.

This summer we will issue a call for expressions of interest to academics who would like to collaborate with us, supervising the studentships starting in 2020. Keep up to date by signing up to our research newsletter and following us on Twitter.

Find out more about the programme and see the new report published by AHRC, outlining the benefits of the collaborative doctoral studentship.

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London Festival of Architecture

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 04:05

We give a lot of thought to what we hold inside our building – over 1,000 years of documents of global historical importance. This June however, we turn our attention to the building that houses our collections as we celebrate the world’s biggest annual architecture festival: the London Festival of Architecture (LFA).

As part of the LFA 2019 programme, we are hosting a series of architecture-focused events, to encourage exploration and discussion of our unique building and public spaces.

Our first building in Kew – known today as Q1 – opened in 1977 following the move of the Public Records Office from Chancery Lane. Designed by John Cecil Clavering for the Property Services Agency, it was built in the brutalist style of architecture popular among contemporary London buildings such as the Royal National Theatre (Sir Denys Lasdun, 1977) and the Hayward Gallery (Hubert Bennett/Jack Whittle, 1968). Q1 is purpose-built for archiving, making use of concrete and extensive air-conditioning units to protect the ever-increasing collection.

We will be holding tours of the Q1 building on 1 and 2 June, which will include the unique opportunity to visit the rooftop, offering a spectacular vantage point over the structure of Q1, as well as far-reaching views of London. Book now

On 26 June, we’ll be hosting Tim Ross, the comedian and design aficionado, as he gives a talk about the campaign to save Sirius, a neglected modernist apartment building in Sydney, from demolition. Tim is best known for his TV and radio work in Australia, and his sell-out live comedy shows, which take place in architecturally significant buildings. Book now

A rare opportunity to hear our design partners from AOC architecture and HemingwayDesign in conversation arises on the 27 June. Geoff Shearcroft (AOC) and Wayne Hemingway MBE will discuss how architecture and design can be used to reimagine the archive and shift its boundaries. Book now

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Apply now: Young People’s Film Project

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 05:55

We will be running an exciting new film project, ‘Mental Health on Record’, from Monday 29 July to Friday 2 August 2019, and we have places for 14 enthusiastic young people (aged 16-19 years) to take part.

Working with professional filmmaker, Nigel Kellaway, you will have the opportunity to explore original documents from our collection on the subject of mental health. These records reflect the personal stories of individuals from history, whose experiences show how mental health was represented and misunderstood in the past.

You will also work with mental health charity Richmond Borough Mind, to learn about contemporary mental health challenges and how people can seek advice and support today.

The project is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working with original documents, learn film-making skills from an industry professional, and work creatively with your peers. Take a look at some of the previous film projects we have run, including ‘Holding History’,  and ‘Suffrage Tales’, for a sense of what you will achieve.

The closing date for applications is Friday 28th June 2019.

For more information about the project and to apply to take part, click here.

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Congratulations to our Finance Team

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:47

Last night at the Public Finance awards, The National Archives finance team won Finance Team of the Year – Central Government and National Bodies’

Pauline Moore, Head of Finance said: “We have had a tough year, carrying some vacancies but still achieving our aims. This award recognises the immense efforts that have been made across the whole team, and the faith our management and external stakeholders have in us to deliver challenging targets.”

As part of the nomination, the finance team highlighted some of the work they have done over the past year, achieving their core objectives with a considerably reduced team.

In addition, they have become experts in managing relationships – transforming the culture of finance internally, and reaching out to new contacts to share expertise across the public sector.


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