At our January 2017 meeting, Lois Abromitis Mackin, Ph.D., gave a tour of the website of The National Archives, the official archive and publisher for the U.K. government–http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/.
The tour highlighted the website’s extensive educational resources and online records of interest to family history researchers.
The educational resources available on the website include
- TNA’s free electronic newsletter. Sign up at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/!
- Blog posts on a variety of topics (http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/).
- Podcasts and videos (http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/). Categories include family history, military history, social history, political history, law and order, archivists and archives, and international.
- The Education page (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/). While the primary audience is teachers and students, family historians will find valuable information on the history of time periods from the Middle Ages to the present. Don’t miss the sections for students on Starting Your Research and Working with Records.
- The Help with Your Research page (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research) is your gateway to a tremendous set of resources.
- Don’t miss Start Here (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/start-here/) for an overview of the records TNA has, the records TNA doesn’t have, guidance on what is and is not online, and information about archives and how to use them.
- TNA has an amazing collection of research guides to subjects and records. From the Help with Your Research page, you can access an A-Z index of the guides, or explore categories of guides, including family history, First World War, Second World War, military and maritime, social and cultural history, and more. The value provided by these guides can’t be overstated–each one is a mini-course, with links to related guides.
- TNA’s Discovery catalog contains more than 32 million detailed descriptions of records held by TNA and more than 2,500 archives across England and Wales, including over 9 million records available for download. Complete with options for advanced search and browse, the catalog page includes extensive, detailed Help resources.
- Don’t miss TNA’s online tutorials for Reading Old Documents, including Latin and paleography, the Video Guides, and TNA’s guidance on how to cite records and catalogs held by TNA, also on the Help with Your Research page.
Like many archives, TNA is digitizing record collections. Some online collections are available on TNA’s own website, and others are available on the websites of TNA partners, including Ancestry and findmypast. The Online Collections page provides a portal for locating and searching these records. Collections available include many military records; wills; passenger lists; nonconformist and non-parish births, marriages, and deaths; railway records, merchant seamen registers, and more. TNA has also digitized many of their microfilm records covering military and naval records, Foreign Office correspondence, and Home Office correspondence. See their guide to digital microfilm at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/free-online-records-digital-microfilm/.
Time spent exploring TNA’s website offers enormous payoff–improving your knowledge of British records, enhancing your research skills, and finding online and archival records to move your research forward.