Private owners are owners of collections of virtually all records, apart from those of the state and its judicial institutions. They include:

  • corporate bodies, such as estates and trusts
  • charitable foundations and organisations of all kinds, such as schools, colleges and religious institutions
  • a vast array of societies and associations, such as political parties, pressure groups, sports and recreational clubs and businesses

Owners may also be individuals who have acquired papers by inheritance, as a gift, through collecting activity or have accumulated personal papers in the pursuit of a career or profession. They may be the current owners of historic collections of family, estate or other papers.

What The National Archives can offer private owners

As part of our archival leadership and in discharging the functions of the Historical Manuscript Commission we offer impartial, confidential and free advice on the long-term care of private records, particularly:

  • the historical interest of collections of papers
  • the care, preservation and storage of records
  • guidance on the sorting and listing of records
  • information on suitable places of deposits
  • information on the location of related manuscript collections
  • assistance in identifying further sources of help and advice
  • general guidance on the availability of tax concessions for owners of manuscripts

For more information contact the Private Archives Team.

Advice on depositing archives

Owners or custodians of archival collections occasionally deposit their papers with record repositories instead of transferring them permanently.

We offer impartial advice to owners and custodians holding all types of manuscript records on where and how to deposit their collections in the United Kingdom. For advice on records in your custody that you wish to deposit, please contact Archives Sector Development.

Surveying historical records

Surveys of historical records are a way of gathering information about the range and extent of archival collections on a common theme. They provide important additional information on records not otherwise listed in the National Register of Archives or other central sources of information.

Below is our checklist of the main issues to address when conducting a survey, including objectives, costs, funding and dissemination of the results.

Surveying historical records (PDF, 0.04Mb)

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