The National Archives

The Finding Archives project has overseen the integration of content from the National Register of Archives (NRA), Directory of Archives (ARCHON), Access to Archives (A2A) and the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) into Discovery. This platform now provides a single point of online access to catalogue and organisational data from across the archive sector.

Our future plans include developing new expert contribution tools for Discovery to improve the process for data owners.

Why are we doing this?

Prior to Discovery, The National Archives provided records information via many different services. These services were managed, updated and supported by different teams in different ways. Bringing these resources together means that Discovery now offers the most comprehensive overview of records held by UK archives and beyond. Its coverage of UK private and public records is unique.

The National Register of Archives, Access to Archives, Manorial Documents Register and Archon Directory have now been retired.

We hope that integration into Discovery will help increase awareness of this information with researchers. Visits to Discovery are increasing, so if you have not already tried, you can visit Discovery and our Manorial Documents Register homepage to see how we are making this information available.

What have we achieved so far?

  • Led a project working with DJS Research Ltd, to gather external user and contributor requirements.
  • Developed Discovery, a new robust platform to search and display The National Archives and other archives collections information.
  • Integrated approximately 10 million catalogue descriptions from Access to Archives, over 250,000 National Register of Archives and Manorial Documents entries and over 2,500 Archon Directory entries into Discovery.
  • Improved the accuracy and quality of information in Discovery of record creator entries for corporate bodies, people and families, including over 195,000 updated during a recent data enhancements project.
  • Continued development of collections information, including over 870 updated Find an Archive entries and 20 new entries for institutions holding archives in the last financial year. In addition, 4,000 new record creator entries and over 6,000 descriptions of records held by other archives were added to Discovery and many more were updated.

Who works on this project?

The team working on this includes systems and web developers, user experience experts, cataloguing and records experts and other staff from across The National Archives, including the Archives Sector Development department. The project began in 2011 and continues to be overseen by a project board which includes representatives from other archives.  

Future plans

We are developing new expert contribution tools for Discovery to improve the process for data owners. To aid in this process we are going to hold a series of workshops for contributors and data owners to help us to identify what contributors think the Discovery service can do for them, and how we can involve them in its development. This builds on initial research we undertook in 2011-2012 with users and data contributors. You can read the original report which outlined requirements for Discovery and highlighted the need for:
  • a better way to deliver collections information to users
  • improved methods of updating content for contributors
We held the first of this series of Discovery contributor workshops at The National Archives on 30 September and will be advertising future workshops soon.
To find out more about updating information on Discovery now, please see our contributor page.

Get in touch

For more information about Discovery and the Finding Archives project, or to express an interest in attending a workshop, please contact the Collections Knowledge Managers for either Finding Archives or Systems.