In general, we release new descriptions gradually so that information becomes searchable as soon as possible. To restrict catalogue searches to a particular project, type its series reference (for example,  HO 47) into the last box of the catalogue search page. Once you have found something interesting, you can visit The National Archives in person, or order a copy of the record.

View Cataloguing projects 2009/10 for projects completed by March 2010.

Cataloguing projects finished in the financial year up to 31 March 2009

C 11 Chancery Pleadings

Staff at The National Archives made corrections and added omitted data for 100,000 Catalogue entries. We have added document type information, which will allow users to put together different parts of a chancery suit.

The chancery pleadings are an important source for family, social, economic and local history.

ED 103 School Grant Applications

The ED 103 series comprises of 140 volumes of correspondence (plus application forms, subscription lists, building certificates, accounts etc) from localities applying for grants to build schools. Cataloguers have created 7,686 new searchable entries with school names and places.

Foreign Office Country Codes

This project has provided country code numbers for 22,000 Foreign Office records between 1906 and 1950. The enhancement covers the following series: FO 366-372, FO 382-383, FO 395, FO 627, FO 850, FO 930 and FO 953. The project puts together the name of the country (using the country codes) and the content information already in the Catalogue.

Example: If you have a former reference from the index cards, such as code 36 file 225385 year 1916, you can search the catalogue for the modern file reference without having to consult the conversion tables. By entering in code 36 in 'scope and content', 1916 to 1916 in 'year range' and FO in 'department or series code' we discover that the document that we need will be found in FO 371/2740 Portugal code 36 file 38879-261548, 1916.

The first tranche has been completed covering files up to 1937 and these have been uploaded onto the Catalogue. Files covering the Second World War and beyond have a more complex arrangement this is being investigated before the project can be brought to a conclusion.

PCOM 4 Prison Female Licences

These records were completely unsearchable. Users were faced with ranges of licence numbers and no content description. Now you can search PCOM 4 by name, age, crime etc. Our cataloguers have uncovered a wonderful resource, which sometimes includes photographs. This project has generated increased interest in these records. A digitisation licence was signed with Ancestry.co.uk in May 2009.

Supplementary Finding Aids Conversion

The project takes good information trapped in indexes and manuscript lists - only available in paper form at The National Archives - and reworks it into online modern searchable descriptions.

So far we have made name-searchable the Divorce files in J 77, Royal Marine attestation papers in ADM 157, probate inventories in PROB 31, and family disputes in Chancery in C 16, with many smaller improvements such as opening up law suits about shipping in the First World War in HCA 20 and HCA 27.

We still have about 500,000 descriptions extracted from supplementary finding aids awaiting checking and upload - with Star Chamber cases from the reign of James I being the most lurid. These are full of witchcraft, abductions and all kinds of bad behaviour.

Also still in progress is an attempt to understand Foreign Office Correspondence in detail by cataloguing the main correspondence series for 1906 - the year their card index started. We found that the card index only had 50% coverage, so we have had to look at the original records as well. Try a search in FO restricted to 1906, using 'murder' or 'earthquake' or 'disaster' - you should find a lot of interesting material!

The Supplementary Finding Aids Project has now moved into a new phase, working with volunteers. If you are interested in liberating even more fantastic data from the many hundreds of volumes created by archivists over the last three centuries, please see our volunteers page for more information.

Judges' reports on criminals in HO 47

This cataloguing project on judges' reports on criminals in HO 47 was undertaken by a team of 21 volunteers and took five years to complete, with an additional three years for editing. These records are of particular interest to people researching convicts transported to Australia (the first volumes also include some transported to America). The date range covered is 1784-1830.

You can search the Catalogue by name, place, crime, court, sentence and dates. Remember to restrict your searches to HO 47.

This project has generated increased interest in these records. A digitisation licence is in negotiation.

Manchester Poor Law Union 1834-1872, in MH 12/6042 - MH 12/6043

Cataloguers created 1,045 item descriptions calendaring these records in MH 12 by folio in great detail. A variety of terms including names and places can be used to retrieve this very rich source of information.

Easier searches for squadrons in AIR 27

Both readers at The National Archives and remote researchers had told us how difficult it was to find an operations record book for a squadron in AIR 27. There were so many hits taking users to odd-looking subseries entries which could not be ordered. Unfortunately, this particularly affected records from the Second World War, which were effectively hidden - and yet were what most people wanted.

We have now copied down data from the subseries titles across pieces and items in AIR 27. We have also moved the information under notes to the scope and content field. As a result, all the descriptive text is now together so searching has been greatly enhanced. For example, a search for 500 Squadron now includes all the previously hidden pieces: AIR 27/1941-1947.

Convoy Lists within the Admiralty War Histories in ADM 199/2184 - ADM 199/2194

The Merchant Navy convoys were a vital lifeline to Britain during the Second World War. Information about these convoy ships was difficult to find as users had to consult the indexes in ADM 12 first. To make matters worse the convoy lists were described only by a range of dates.

Cataloguers have created 1,331 new items in ADM 199 that can be searched by ship's name, convoy number, port of departure and by date.

Chancery Equity Pleadings: 12 unlisted boxes in the series C 4

There were no descriptions at all for the records in C 4/161 - C 4/173. These 16th century pleadings can now be searched by name in series C 4, and sometimes match up to the pleadings in C 1.

National Coal Board: unlisted files in COAL 36/123 - COAL 36/1019

These registration files were reported by a member of the public as showing blank scope and content descriptions and no dates. There were 896 blank catalogue entries (out of 1019 within COAL 36). Now users can search these records in COAL 36 by colliery name and by date.

E 179 Hearth Tax Exemption

We have a rolling programme to catalogue these exemption certificates in E179 by county. These paper certificates, filled in by the officials of each parish, list the names of householders who were exempted from payment of the tax on hearths by reason of their relative poverty.

Before the project these records had blank descriptions and were also undated. Now individual item entries have been created for each certificate. They can be searched by the name of the county, hundred and parish.

We have completed work on Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, London and Middlesex. Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire are being worked on.

Collection of passports in FO 655 (whole series: 2,097 passports)

A collection illustrating the many different types of passport issued between 1802 and 1961. It includes some passports issued by Foreign Missions in this country to British subjects wishing to travel abroad.

These records in FO 655 could only be searched by place of issue and year. Now you can also search them by name and place of birth.

Linked to this project, the search register of passport applications for 1851-1856, 1858-1862 and 1874-1903 has been digitised by Findmypast - an external company independent from The National Archives - and are searchable through their website.

Passport Office: Case papers in FO 737 (whole series: 130 files)

Approximately 500 new item descriptions in FO 737 have been released during the year, searchable by name, place of birth, place of residence (when available), application number and date of application.