Creating an accessions record is one of the first actions taken in gaining intellectual control of a new acquisition. Sharing elements of an accessions description can be a simple but effective way for archives to make information about holdings discoverable before they are fully catalogued.

Each year The National Archives invites over 300 archive services in the UK and Ireland to provide a list of archival material they have accessioned during the previous 12 months.

We use this information to extend Discovery’s coverage of other archives’ records and publish an overview of broad collecting themes; track documents and records identified as part of our Sales Monitoring Service; monitor public records and manorial document transfers and analyse collecting patterns and trends.

Outputs of the survey

The results of the survey are used to promote archives services and their collections through Discovery and in other ways.

Follow us on Twitter to hear news about the survey and join us in promoting new collections by using #NewInArchives.

The survey

Our curated overview shows collecting by archives service and across broad areas of research. These include subjects like politics and military history and areas that we have a special interest in such as manorial records.

Having refreshed these categories for the 2017 survey, we can also see collecting activity across themes including black and ethnic minority and LGBTQ history and track records generated by third sector charitable and philanthropic activity. For information about these themes, please contact the team.

See the 2017 survey results by archives service and theme.

The report

Archives Unlocked: the action plan calls on us to ‘demonstrate the impact of archives by developing and expanding audiences, piloting approaches to using data and evidence’.

Since Accessions 2016 we have published a report offering insight into collecting trends by analysing the complete and unedited accessions data. For the first time it gives us the materials as sector lead, to initiate a new dialogue about UK collecting based on evidence we have been gathering for over 60 years.

The report celebrates the investment that archives make in quality collection development and accessioning practice.

Read What’s new in archives? Accessions to Repositories 2017 (PDF, 4.0 MB)

Read Accessions to UK Repositories 2016 (PDF, 1.76 MB)

We are keen to gather feedback and know what analysis and insight would you like to see from this reporting in future years. Please email your thoughts to the team.

The data

The complete raw data (including nil returns and all single and traditionally non-archival items and accruals) gathered from participating archives has been published on, to encourage research and analysis into collecting and collections.

Access the 2017 and 2016 datasets

Accessions to Repositories 2018

The Accessions to Repositories 2017 survey is now closed and we are making arrangements for the 2018 survey. We will be contacting archives in late 2018 inviting them to participate, so if you are interested in taking part again or for the first time please contact the team.

For more information, you can see last year’s template and guidance below. The 2017 template was adapted to support our data analysis work. We asked all participants including local authority places of deposit to use the following updated template to send in their returns:

Template: Accessions template 2017 (XLS, 0.23MB)

Further details about New Burdens and eligibility for local authority places of deposit are available on the 20 year rule web page.

Guidance: Accessions to Repositories Guidance (general) 2017 (PDF, 0.22MB)

Guidance for local authority Places of Deposit: Accessions to Repositories Guidance (local authority places of deposit) 2017 (PDF, 0.25MB)

More information

For further information about the Accessions programme, or to share your thoughts on the What’s new in archives? Accessions to Repositories 2017 report, please email us.