Stories from the collection

Have you heard the story of the mixed-race, working-class, disabled activist who campaigned for voting rights in the 18th century? How about the young woman who faced prison for a child murder she may not have committed?

Our Digital Services team has been working on a new way to help you explore the people, places and events featured in our records without undertaking hours of research, which we’re calling Stories from the collection. These articles bring to life the human stories from our vast collection, showcasing fascinating records, blogs by our experts, podcasts, videos and more.

This is the first public release of a new editorial content format as part of our digital project Etna (Exploring the Nation’s Archives). Etna’s goal is to reimagine the way the public accesses archives online, engaging new audiences with our fascinating collection spanning 1,000 years of history.

We’ve been working hard on Etna since 2019 and throughout the pandemic. The project began with an investigative ‘discovery’ phase followed by an ‘alpha’ phase, which produced a number of experimental prototypes. These explored new tools and approaches to bring together our evidential and interpretative content. Of three original prototypes, ‘Stories’ is the first to be launched to the public.

The stories we’ve published so far feature some of the most fascinating and iconic records in our collection, such as the HMT Empire Windrush passenger lists, Shakespeare’s will, and first-hand testimonies from suffragettes. They showcase these key records, curated and interpreted by our experts. You can also explore the sensational trial of a West End dancer, see photographs and designs from the Festival of Britain, and learn the story of the Mangrove Nine. Keep an eye out as more stories will be added over the coming months.

You can view Stories from the collection now on our beta site. ‘Betas’ are websites where new features in development are tested and where you can give feedback on how things are working. We’d love for you to enjoy, explore and let us know what you think of this new type of storytelling. Every bit of feedback from you, big or small, negative or positive, is valuable.


  1. David Matthew says:

    The case of Sophia Martha Todd seems pretty watertight, although TNA do try to rewrite history (‘cancel culture) for women, most women got about seven years imprisonment if their death sentence was commuted. I wonder (I am sure TNA wouldn’t) treat such a case the same if it was a male murderer. Why did she carry the trunk with her?, clear evidence of guilt.

  2. David Matthew says:

    Upon further research in the British Newspaper Archive it was said that she had care of five children, of which she could not account for three of them and later the bodies of them were found at her residence. It is quite clear she was involved in ‘baby farming’ and killing children and the verdict was correct.

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