Completed volunteering projects

We run a diverse range of projects to engage volunteers, covering a broad spectrum of interests.

Read about our current opportunities.

You can also find out about volunteer cataloguing opportunities with the Friends of The National Archives.

Modern Materials – Photographs

Platinum print - COPY 1-418-8

Platinum print – COPY 1-418-8

Volunteers in the Collection Care department have completed a survey of our eight million photographs.

They learned how to identify different photographic processes as well as the reasons that photographs tend to develop a silver sheen, turn yellow or fade, and how these effects can be prevented through cooler and drier storage conditions.

The information gathered has given us a better understanding of the scale of the photographic collection, as well as the different processes and storage materials it includes and the photographs’ condition. This information is now being used to formulate scientific research topics, improve housing and perform conservation treatment, and further volunteer opportunities will follow.

Jacobite risings

This project involves cataloguing the State Papers of George I (SP 35) and George II (SP 36), which are currently only accessible on site at The National Archives. Once complete, the catalogue descriptions will be available online for all to search, providing an indispensible resource for both academics and family historians. This project is a key component of our anniversary activities commemorating the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745.

Design registers

This project involves transcribing and cataloguing large volumes of BT 43 designs registered at the Board of Trade between 1839 and 1991. The designs cover a range of materials and products, including metal, wood, glass, earthenware, paper hangings (wall paper), carpets, yarn, lace, printed and woven fabrics, including shawls.

Medieval and Early Modern property deeds

The series WARD 2 comprises more than 7,000 documents, ranging in date from 12th to the 17th century, used as evidence in legal disputes in the Court of Wards and Liveries. The project aims to catalogue WARD 2 for the first time, capturing the names of the parties to the transaction, the type and location of property, the nature of the transaction, and other details such as date and language, and thus make it fully searchable in Discovery, our catalogue.

Hearth tax

Hearth tax records provide an insight into diverse areas such as wealth, poverty, population, and literacy in the early modern period. The records held at The National Archives cover two periods when the tax was administered directly by the Exchequer, rather than locally: 1662-1666 and 1669-1674. Within in each county these fragile and sometimes damaged papers were generally boxed loose and in random order.

The cataloguing project aims to sort these records by administrative area (borough or hundred), then alphabetically by parish, and chronologically within parish. The items are then numbered, conserved and packed, and the final list released on Discovery.

First World War officers’ service records

In July 2016, a team of over 20 volunteers completed the re-cataloguing of the series of records WO 374. This series contains records and correspondence for nearly 78,000 officers with temporary commissions and Territorial Army officers who served in the First World War. It followed on from a similar project to re-catalogue WO 339 which consists of nearly 140,000 Regular Army and Emergency Reserve officers who served in the First World War.

Both projects helped to vastly improve improve the catalogue descriptions of each record, so that they show the full name of the officer, the rank and regiment they last served with (previously only the surname and initial(s) of the officers were given, making it difficult to identify specific individuals with common surnames). Both projects helped uncover some notable records including those relating to future Prime Minister, Major Clement Richard Attlee, PC, MP, 2/Lieutenant Walter Daniel Tull (the first black officer in the British Army), and actor Basil Rathbone.

Hear from volunteers and staff involved in these projects.

Royal Charters

The Charter Rolls cataloguing project aims to provide useful, searchable online catalogue descriptions of the medieval charter rolls (C 53). These are the enrolled copies of the charters by which medieval royal government granted land and liberties and privileges such as markets and fairs, peerages and exemptions. The grants were to individuals, cities, towns and religious corporations and are vital to the study of the history of the period. The online catalogue descriptions will be based on the summaries currently only available in printed formats.