What changes are we making and why?

Discovery now incorporates data from the National Register of Archives (NRA), Directory of Archives (ARCHON), Access to Archives (A2A) and the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) and replaces them.  The A2A and NRA services are now closed. 

We will continue work to develop additional functionality in Discovery for the data that was previously held in ARCHON and the MDR. These standalone services will close later this year. Once they have been closed, users will be re-directed to Discovery. 

One of the long-term benefits of developing Discovery is the opportunity to improve the way we update and manage the records information provided to us by other archives.

Our current processes and services were innovative at the time they were launched. However, they were largely developed before the emergence of online cataloguing tools and other initiatives. This has resulted in an impressive and vast amount of electronic catalogue data being created for the benefit of users. Our ways of working need to change to deliver the vision of providing a single point of online access to catalogue and organisational data from across the archive sector through Discovery.

Later this year, we will start developing an administrative tool for Discovery. It will enable us to curate data here at The National Archives and provide mechanisms for manual or automated data contribution from other archives. We will improve the ways we can take in full catalogues, summary accession and collection level content, name authorities and Manorial Documents Register data.

We will be working with archives to develop new and improved ways in which they can share their records information with us, and discuss strategies to ensure that Discovery is the most comprehensive resource possible.
While we build this tool, we will continue to update the information held within Discovery and make new content available within the constraints of continuing technical development. 

Updating Discovery

Records and record creator data

Prior to Discovery, we gathered catalogues in numerous ways and made descriptions of the same records available via different services including the NRA and A2A. Discovery will simplify the process of providing this data to The National Archives through a tool for archives to provide new and revised catalogues. 

During this time, we will not be updating data which was originally gathered and hosted on A2A. We will, however, continue to take in both paper and electronic catalogues and name authority data, to update records, links to online catalogues and record creator information in Discovery.

Manorial Documents Register in Discovery

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is an index to English and Welsh manorial records, providing brief descriptions of documents and details of their locations in public and private hands. It is partially computerised improving both the quality and quantity of the available information and providing wider access to this resource. The remaining non-computerised English counties are available in hard copy format in the Map and Large Document Reading Room at The National Archives.

The Register is now searchable using Discovery. A custom search tool is being developed for Discovery which will replicate existing search functionality.

We will continue to take in information which will allow us to provide accurate and up to date information about manorial records and their locations. Any change in ownership of manorial records must be notified to the Secretary of the Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC) and Head of Archives Sector Development at The National Archives by the new owner, as stated in the Manorial Document rules.

Find an archive

Prior to Discovery, contact and access information for over 3,000 UK and international archival repositories was made available via ARCHON, the online directory of contact and access details. This information can now be searched via the Find an Archive tool and is also used in Discovery to describe the location of records.

Until ARCHON is closed later in the year - when Discovery will replicate its advanced search features -you can still submit an update. A new form for updating and creating pages via Discovery will be available soon. When ARCHON is closed, the unique repository number used for ISAD(G) compliant cataloguing  will continue to be known as an ARCHON code.

Please note that all changes to information made available in Discovery will take at least 24 hours to be displayed.


You can contact the team by email, or write to us with corrections, amendments or new additions to Discovery including Find an Archive and the Manorial Documents Register at The National Archives: Archives Sector Development, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

Updating the Hospital Records Database

The Hospital Records Database is managed by the Wellcome Library, so please contact Archives and Manuscripts if you have queries or updates.

The Hospital Records Database is not currently included in Discovery, but we are looking at ways to update and incorporate the data in the future.