Staff profiles

The National Archives offers a variety of career opportunities. Here, some of our staff talk about their roles and experiences.

Katy Mair – Principal Records Specialist – Early Modern

What does your role involve?

As a member of Advice and Records Knowledge my main role is to offer advice to the public on navigating our extraordinary collection of records, both in our reading rooms and remotely. I work within the medieval and early modern team, and my area of specialism is the early modern period, interpreted here as 1509-1782 – the date range covered by the State Papers. I am involved in various cataloguing projects, which aim to unlock some of the less well-described documents, so that readers can extend their research. Finally I deliver talks both here at The National Archives and at conferences across the country that are designed to develop knowledge about our records.

What is your professional background?

I completed a PhD on early modern letter writing at Queen Mary, University of London in 2009. A serendipitous internet search led me to the job advert for the role of Early Modern Records Specialist, and I joined The National Archives in April 2010. It is hugely rewarding to be able to make use of the skills (such as palaeography) that I gained during my postgraduate studies, and my research skills are continually being developed through the demands of the role.

What do you enjoy about working at The National Archives?

We help a great number of readers to find the relevant document series for their research, and it is very satisfying to be able to show people how to get the most from our online Catalogue and the resources in the reading rooms here at Kew. The diverse nature of the queries means that I am constantly learning about our collection of records, and therefore about different historical events. But the most exciting part of my role is reading and hearing the final outcome of the research undertaken by our readers, and seeing how they have used the bare bones of our archival collection to develop and extend historical knowledge.

Melinda Haunton – Programmes Manager, Archives Sector Development

What does your role involve?

I support and advise the wider archives sector as part of The National Archives’ broader remit. I am responsible for Archive Service Accreditation, our management standard for the wider archives sector. I lead on assessing applications from archive services seeking to meet the Accreditation Standard, including site visits and developing understanding of their mission and the community their archive serves. I also run training for archivists on how they can use Accreditation to develop their services

What is your professional background?

I have a PhD in History and I worked in the academic sector teaching undergraduate courses at several universities. Since joining The National Archives, I have undertaken professional training and am now a qualified archivist.

What do you enjoy about working at The National Archives?

I love being at the centre of information and advice to the archives sector. This job is an unparalleled opportunity to explore and support the UK’s archival provision. As a historian by training, it is incredibly satisfying to be working to preserve the nation’s written heritage, without which we would know so little about our past. At the moment, I particularly enjoy visiting newly Accredited Archive Services to give them their awards and celebrate their success. Archivists round the country work incredibly hard and sometimes feel rather invisible. It’s great to be able to change that!

Kathryn Phelps – Education Web Officer

What does your role involve?

I am responsible for the development of e-learning materials for the Education section of The National Archives’ website. I’m also thinking about how we can develop the use of social media to tell people about our wonderful online and on site resources! At the moment, we’re looking at how we can use tablets for our on site sessions. We’ve also been working on an online document collection called ‘Attlee’s Britain’, which provides access to Key Stage 4 and 5 students to some enlightening documents about Attlee’s government. For this resource, we’ve produced an accompanying Pinterest board, which illustrates Attlee’s post- war vision of the future.

What is your professional background?

After obtaining a degree in Art History, I worked in the book trade before taking on a junior role at an art library, with a view to becoming a picture researcher. Realising I wanted to do something even more creative, I worked for a time as a jeweller, making jewellery out of a wide range of materials. In 2005, I started work at The National Archives, on the DocumentsOnline helpdesk. My interest in the web grew until in 2010 I took on the role of Webmaster in the web team. I haven’t been in my current role as Education Web Officer for long, but am hugely enjoying it.

What do you enjoy about working at The National Archives?

The National Archives is a great environment to work in. It has been a pleasure to be a part of all three of the teams I have worked in. The personal and professional development has been fantastic for me, and enabled me to progress to a place that I really wanted to be. The gym, the grounds of The National Archives (with its own pond and beehives), not to mention the free entry to Kew Gardens for The National Archives’ staff, make this a good place for the body and mind too.

Kostas Ntanos – Head of Conservation Research and Development

What does your role involve?

I lead a team whose primary role is to undertake research and provide evidence to inform thinking and practices that affect the long-term preservation of The National Archives’ collection. My team achieves this by fostering relationships and building collaborations with other researchers across a range of disciplines. We also supply technical advice, especially on issues relating to environmental management. Finally, I keep abreast with the latest developments in conservation science, both nationally and internationally, and help translate research findings into practical solutions for collection care.

What is your professional background?

I studied conservation of works of art and archaeological materials in Greece before I moved to the UK to do a Master’s degree in Conservation Science at the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum Conservation course. During my studies in London I was based at the British Museum and have also done various placements in other cultural heritage institutions. I joined The National Archives in 2005.

What do you enjoy about working at The National Archives?

It is a privilege to work for an organisation with a national and international reputation for being a leader in its field. The organisation as a whole is involved in a diverse range of activities, with numerous stakeholders. No single problem to solve is the same as another, which gives my job variety and keeps me engaged. The National Archives is a vibrant organisation and innovation has been at the forefront of new developments. The atmosphere at work is very friendly at all levels, and is certainly enhanced by the nice building and grounds.