Government datasets in Discovery

Have you ever settled down for an enjoyable nap under a tree, only to find yourself being awoken by the low swoop of an incredibly large bat?

Sleeping man and flying bat

Sleeping man and flying bat (catalogue ref: INF 3/1101)

In case you have, you might have wished you had known where bat colonies are located around the country. One tool that you could have used for this purpose is the British Bat Dataset – FT 40 – which is available through Discovery.

The dataset is one of many available in the catalogue, on a range of subjects from statistics relating to Bovine Tuberculosis, to the cleanliness of bathing waters around the UK, to the British Crime Survey of the 1980s and 1990s.

From 1997 to 2010 The National Archives selected government datasets for preservation in The National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD), operated out of the University of London Computer Centre. This service was discontinued in 2010, as datasets were increasingly published on departmental websites. You can learn more on our Archiving datasets webpage.

The former NDAD pages – as captured in the web archive – allowed the user to browse the collection of datasets and download the files from our DocumentsOnline service. The datasets were incorporated into Discovery, alongside all our other records, but since the closure of the Catalogue and DocumentsOnline there has not been a simple way to navigate through this part of our collection.

Accordingly, we have developed guidance to help users access the datasets on Discovery. This is available via the Catalogues and online records page, and is designed to show the most effective route to specific datasets, as well as providing a list of all the NDAD datasets in our holdings.

Snapshot of the Government Datasets guidance on The National Archives website

Government datasets guidance

What this guide does not provide is detailed technical guidance about how to interpret specific datasets. We hope to develop such a guide in the near future, to open up these records to more people than just the specialist statisticians and data interrogators who can use them at the moment. We are also looking into developing a screencast to show how best to access the datasets.

We hope that users find the guidance useful and – as ever – please let us know your thoughts, either via the comments section below, or the Contact us page on our website.

As for those bats, I am afraid to say that much of the location data in FT 40/1 is currently closed, in order to protect their natural habitats, as well as the names and addresses of (human) residences. So, the safest way to protect yourself from such a looming presence when you are resting remains to keep at least one eye open.


  1. Mr P Bullock says:

    Do you have records for the Control Commission Germany ( all uniformed men and women)? They were an occupation dministration force after all.

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