Celebrating the contributions of our volunteers

Celebrating the contributions of our volunteers

Today marks the beginning of Volunteers’ Week and for the first time, this year we will be honouring the achievements of our volunteers through a series of online events. Volunteers make an important contribution to the work of The National Archives and this will be highlighted in a series of blogs this week. As well as celebrating the overwhelming response to recent call outs for remote volunteer projects, we will look back at the achievements of our onsite volunteers before the closure of the building.

Caroline Ottaway-Searle, Director of Public Engagement, said: ‘To celebrate Volunteers’ Week 2020 we want to say a big thank you to our volunteers for the significant amount of time and commitment they freely give and for the enormous contribution they make. Volunteers continue to be invaluable to the work we do here regardless of whether they are able to be onsite or not.’

We were delighted to host the London Heritage Volunteer Awards reception last October, which celebrated the achievements of volunteers working in the capital. Volunteers at The National Archives commit to an average of one day’s work per week. Over the last year, onsite volunteers alone have contributed an amazing 18,497 hours of time and effort. During the same period, around 1,200 volunteers have helped enhance over 405,000 of our catalogue descriptions, making these records much more accessible. Highlights include the completion of the Admiralty Navy Board (ADM 106) project and the start of a project to catalogue the paintings and drawings in our copyright records (COPY 1).

You can read more about these projects and others on our volunteering web pages, where you can also meet some of our dedicated volunteers and join our current remote cataloguing projects. As you will read, our volunteering activities extend beyond cataloguing, as we develop more opportunities to support our public engagement activities.

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A message about racial equality from our Chief Executive and Keeper

A message about racial equality from our Chief Executive and Keeper

The National Archives is committed to fairness and equality for all. We do not tolerate racism or any racial injustice. Archives are for everyone because they are about everyone – past, present and future.

We are proud to be a part of a dynamic network of archives and, as a custodian of the nation’s histories, to promote and share the diverse stories within our records.

Our collections span 1,000 years of difference, debate and progress. Created from the perspective of state and empire, we hold important records that bear witness to past injustice and the long fight for equality in the Black community. Our records describe the incremental changes, the debates which took place behind closed doors, the policing and monitoring. Our records, like those of other archives, also show the ongoing and ever-present forms of resistance to racism, and struggles for social justice from within the Black community both globally and at home.

It is important that archives are open about what they hold and about the empowerment they offer: as a potential tool for legal recourse, memorialisation of lives lost, monitoring the rate of change, and fundamentally to learn from our past.

We embrace the values of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, but we acknowledge that we have a lot more to do. In publishing our vision, Archives for Everyone, we are committed to making the Inclusive Archive a reality:

‘The inclusive archive builds trust and tears down barriers to access, participation and understanding. It harnesses talent from diverse backgrounds. It is bold, active and outward-looking – encountered by people and communities in unexpected places and at vital moments.’

We are hugely proud of our talented and diverse staff and their commitment to making our collections accessible to anyone, from anywhere. They are the heart of our transformation. We aim to build together a workplace that continually looks to remove any inequalities and barriers.

The Black Lives Matter protests across the world have reinforced the urgency for change. We will become more aware. We will listen. We will strive to be better so that we can wholly reflect and represent the society we serve.

Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives


Our website is home to a number of Black British history resources that you may find useful.

Research guides:

Teachers notes and resources:

Online exhibitions, images and projects:

Blogs and podcasts:



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Seeking new delegates for our User Advisory Group

Seeking new delegates for our User Advisory Group

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 one or more of the following user groups:

  • Academics – historians and those with links to one or more of the learned societies and who are involved in encouraging post-graduates to work with archival material
  • Map room users
  • Family history users – someone with an interest in family history societies and who is part of the network of family history societies

Representatives will also need to demonstrate that 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 usually held four times a year at The National Archives in Kew, but are currently being held virtually by video conference. The meetings are usually scheduled on Tuesdays during working hours. Dates and times are published well in advance and delegates are expected to make every effort to attend.

Delegates may claim travel expenses. 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.

It is important to us that our organisation is more diverse, so we encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and identities. We’re especially keen to hear from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates who are currently underrepresented.

Please email your expression of interest to: [email protected].

The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 7 August 2020 at 17:00.

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Newly accredited archive services announced

Newly accredited archive services announced

The UK Archive Service Accreditation Committee is pleased to announce that the University of Manchester Library was awarded Archive Service Accreditation for the first time at the latest panel meeting in July 2020.

Archive Service Accreditation is awarded for a period of six years and at the same July panel, Unilever Archives and Records Management achieved accredited status for a second time following its first award in 2014.

By attaining accreditation, archive services demonstrate that they meet the UK standard for collections management and access to collections, showing resilience and the ability to manage changing circumstances successfully. This has been vital to granting awards during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which has presented exceptional challenges to archive services across the UK.

A full list of accredited archive services is available here.

Find out more about Archive Service Accreditation here and further information about Archive Service Accreditation and the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic here.

Archive Service 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.

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