It has been one year since we launched The National Archives’ blog. From the start, our writers and staff have taken a fresh look at a wide range of subjects. Our 223 posts have ranged from information management in the movies to personal stories of the First World War and Titanic, from maps to UFOs. With over 60 published authors from around the organisation, we seem to relish the chance to tell the stories of our work. And people seem to want to read them too – with around 10,000 visitors a month.
"Motor Manufacturing" by Clive Gardiner for the Empire Marketing Board (ref CO 956/258)
So apart from that, why do we do it? For three reasons. First, The National Archives is doing some of the most interesting work around on a whole lot of issues. Our aim is to bring some of this to the people who matter – the users, readers and researchers. We certainly haven’t always been perfect but it is all the more important that we get feedback from users to make our services as good as they can be. Second, because of the financial situation, the best way to get this feedback is not through expensive surveys or focus groups, but through the web and social media. And, third, our role is to bring the most interesting public records and information to light, objectively, and let others discuss them. Continue reading »
Lloyd's Weekly News composing room, Fleet Street, London, 1911 (ref COPY 1/555 )
We’ve introduced a new front page for the blog, showing a lot more of our recent posts at first glance and hopefully making it easier to browse through categories. However, if you prefer, you can easily switch back to the old view by clicking on ‘List view’ at the top of the page.
We’ve simplified categories – and you can still find and bookmark particular subjects using tags, for example archives sector, digital preservation or genealogy, or through the search function.
We are always looking for ways to improve your use and enjoyment of the blog – we will continue to act on your feedback and hope you keep telling us what you think.
Look out tomorrow for a special post from our first blogger – Chief Executive and Keeper, Oliver Morley – marking one whole year of The National Archives’ blog.
The indictment of Alice Sparke, who was put on trial for witchcraft on 23 March 1576. Document reference: ASSI 35/18/5 m 18.
You live in a village in 16th century England and you keep two cows. Sadly, your cows are not thriving and you are concerned for their welfare. Do you:
a) Change their diet?
b) Treat them with leeches?
c) Kill them, sell the meat and use the profit to buy better cows?
d) Accuse someone of bewitching them?
John Harvy, from Buntingford in Hertfordshire, chose option d. He accused a woman named Alice Sparke of being an ‘enchantress and witch’. Alice denied the accusation and was put on trial for witchcraft at the assizes in Hertford on 23 March 1576. Continue reading »
On our Digital Continuity training course we cover a situation where the supplier of your records management system withdraws support. Yesterday the administrators of 2e2, who supply the Wisdom EDRM product, announced that that business operation had ceased following an unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer.
So what do you do in such circumstances? The Information Management Services team here at The National Archives have the following advice drawn from our Digital Continuity guidance: Continue reading »
On Monday 28 January, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) hosted a file formats day of action, creatively titled ‘Bring Out Your Dead (Files)’ at the Wellcome Collection. As The National Archives’ resident File Format Signature Developer, I was invited to deliver a presentation on DROID and PRONOM, our file format identification tool and file format registry, and a workshop on Developing File Format Signatures for PRONOM.
My own talk reviewed DROID and PRONOM developments in 2012:
- DROID 6.1 was released in August. DROID development has switched to Github, and we have a Google Groups discussion page open for support enquiries
- The PRONOM registry has grown considerably, with 100 new file formats, 177 new file format signatures, and a full time researcher appointed
- PRONOM has been able to grow this much in part due to the wealth of external contributors who continue to provide us with file format signature and research information. Over a dozen institutions and individuals contributed last year
- Finally I was delighted to announce that the download for our DROID tool now has a permanent home on The National Archives’ own website.
My workshop focused on demystifying the file format research and signature development processes I undertake and allowed willing participants the chance to try developing their own signatures. Continue reading »
Have you ever written an email in anger or in jest, and then decided it would be better not to send it? Where do your drafts go? And if a social historian were to compare it with the sent version of the email in years to come, what would they think? And what if only the draft survived – would it present you in a drastically different light?
Here at The National Archives we can make such a comparison for none other than Queen Elizabeth I, as we hold a draft letter addressed to the earl and countess of Shrewsbury that was evidently considered to be too frivolous to be sent, while the final version of the letter survives in Lambeth Palace Library.
First page of the draft letter from Elizabeth I to the earl and countess of Shrewsbury, SP 53/10 folios 9-12 (item 84)
Continue reading »
A very happy Waitangi Day to all New Zealanders everywhere.
To coincide with Waitangi Day, The National Archives has digitised a series of photo albums from the Colonial Office Library, in Australasia Through a Lens. The images, released on Flickr, include 211 images of New Zealand and New Zealanders. Among these are a signed photo of the All Blacks touring team of 1953-1954, scenic photographs published by Burton Bros, and scans of lithographs from the publication ‘The New Zealanders Illustrated’ by George French Angas.
The National Archives also holds three transcriptions of the Treaty of Waitangi, including the one depicted below, but I don’t want to focus this blog post on the treaty itself. The official copy of the treaty is held in The National Archives of New Zealand in Wellington, and there are plenty of people who can discuss it with far more authority than me.
Treaty of Waitangi, 6 February 1840: copy of the text of the treaty, in Maori, with the names of some of the signatories. Certified, in English, as a true copy by George Clarke, Chief Collector of Aborigines. Reference MFQ 1/402/1
“Claiming our history, celebrating our past, creating our future!” is the motto of LGBT history month which begins today.
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) history has been in focus at The National Archives for a while now and we have many things going on to contribute to the aim above, and encourage future research in the area.
The rainbow of LGBT can be found in many archives and libraries. Source: www.flickr.com/photos/bluemarla/229631339/in/set-72157608188767044/
Today sees the re-launch of our Gay and Lesbian history research guide which has been updated and streamlined to make it more user-friendly for those starting out in their research. It suggests a number of areas where users may wish to begin, but also, importantly, it suggests historical terminology to use in our online catalogue.
Continue reading »