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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The official archives for England, Wales and the central UK government

The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Secretary of State for Justice. It brings together the Public Record Office, Historical Manuscripts Commission, the Office of Public Sector Information and Her Majesty's Stationery Office. It is also the UK government's official archive, containing 900 years of history with records ranging from the Doomesday Book and parchment and paper scrolls through to digital files and archived websites. The National Archives makes open records available to all, either onsite or online, continuously developing new tools to make history tangible for everyone.

Part of the National Archives Website is the ARCHON Directory, which includes contact details for record repositories in the United Kingdom and also for institutions elsewhere in the world which have substantial collections of manuscripts noted under the indexes to the National Register of Archives. This is an extensive collection of repositories with 2050 listed in England alone.

The National Archives' DocumentsOnline include such popular databases as WWI Campaign Medals, Wills, Cabinet Papers, WWI Diaries, the Domesday Book, Digital Microfilm Project and many other records. Some of these records are free and others may have a nominal charge for downloads or copies.

This is another major collection of online records that gets little mention in genealogy circles. Interestingly, this huge site is not listed as one of FamilyTree's 101 best Websites for British Researchers. However, FamilyTree Magazine does list one of the services, Access to Archives, as a favorite site. Also, FamilySearch.org lists ARCHON Archive Online as a resource but does not have a reference to the whole National Archives Website.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for an interesting article James, with some great links for Brits.
    Regards,
    Colin

    ReplyDelete