The Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research is a subcommittee of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives, set up in May 2010 to provide a means through which recommendations can be made to the Advisory Council about activity relating specifically to historical manuscripts (private archives), as well as a place for discussion about academic research issues. This will allow the Advisory Council and The National Archives to formally clarify and strengthen their role relating to historical manuscripts and private archives, as well as their relationships with senior academics.


The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (HMC) was set up to locate and record the contents and location of private papers of historical interest (apart from public records) and to advise on preservation, storage and access. The board of commissioners was appointed by HM The Queen, and Lord Bingham was Chair until 2003.

In response to significant technology changes taking place and issues affecting public and private archives, HMC merged with the then Public Record Office (PRO) in 2003 to create The National Archives. The aim was to increase the HMC's capacity and the impact it was able to have within the sector. Since the merger in 2003, the functions of the HMC have been undertaken in what is now the Archives Sector Development department at The National Archives.

The Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research has been set up to increase the visibility of historical manuscripts and scholarly research, and also bring to the fore the issues affecting private archives.


The Master of the Rolls is Chair the Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research and membership comprises experts in academic research and / or knowledge and experience of private archives.

Four members of the Advisory Council whose backgrounds are more closely aligned to historical manuscripts / private archives and academic research form part of the Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research whilst also remaining part of the full Advisory Council. These members are: Dr Bendor Grosvenor, Dr Elizabeth Lomas, Ms Hillary Bauer and Ms Lesley Ferguson . The three additional members: Dr Christopher Ridgway, Curator at Castle Howard, Dr Clive Cheesman, Chair of the Friends of The National Archives and Dr Ian Mortimer, historian and historical biographer.

The Chief Executive is also a member of the Forum, on an ex officio basis as the Historical Manuscripts Commissioner.