‘To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often’ - Winston Churchill
Regular followers of our blog will be aware that The National Archives is following an ambitious plan to integrate several resources describing records held in archives elsewhere into our Discovery service. This project is known as Finding Archives, and focuses on the National Register of Archives (NRA), Manorial Documents Register (MDR), ARCHON Directory, and Access to Archives (A2A), Accessions to Repositories. These services currently provide descriptive and access information about millions of records held in over 2,500 archives in the UK and overseas.
In a previous blog post, I wrote a little bit about the design process and our plans for the development of the system. Since then, we have released a beta version in order to gather as much feedback as we can. With that in mind, I thought now might be a good opportunity to write about how the enhanced Discovery might benefit your research.
Currently, Discovery principally contains information about records held by The National Archives. These are mostly kept in accordance with our role as the official archive for the UK government, and for England and Wales. Consequently, Discovery is already the largest individual archive catalogue in the country, but it is by no means the complete picture. To find out about records of local government, businesses, other organisations, families, and individuals, a researcher may have to search the different resources listed above, in addition to archives’ own catalogues. Some topics are so large that records may be held in several different archives in public and private hands. Others, meanwhile, are so specific, it is very easy to overlook them. Knowing where to begin is a great challenge.