Digitisation of the CO series of records at The National Archives

FOI request reference: F0062336
Publication date: July 2020




Request & response

My enquiry concerns the “Records of the Colonial Office, Commonwealth and Foreign and Commonwealth Offices, Empire Marketing Board, and related bodies” also known as CO. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C57

1) What percentage of the CO records have been digitised?

We do not hold this information. TNA holds lists of what has been digitised (both by itself and third parties), but the complexity of the data held means that it is not possible to arrive simply at a percentage figure.

2) What is the criteria used by the National Archives in selecting which records from CO are to be digitised?

We do not hold this information. TNA does not have an internal digitisation program for the CO series of records. The majority of records are selected for digitisation by TNA’s commercial partners.

However, we can confirm that:

• 5 items and 15 maps and plans have been copied for commemorative events, presentations or exhibitions
• 2 items have been copied for the Looted Art Commission which was externally funded
• 1 piece has been copied for a press release
• 323 pieces and items are Digital Microfilm copied as part of the project to remove microfilm from the reading rooms
• 9,510 individual images of CO documents are available on our Image Library Website

3) How much money has been spent on digitising these records each year during the period of 1/1/07 to 31/12/19?

We do not hold this information. This information would be held by TNA’s commercial partners who digitised the majority of the CO series of records. The digitised records available on Discovery, our online catalogue, were copied as part of wider programmes and the cost of digitising CO records specifically cannot be differentiated.

4) What percentage of these digitised records are available on TNA’s website free-of-charge to the end user?

As of 8th July, we can confirm that 346 out of the 342,524 CO pieces and items are available digitally on Discovery, our online catalogue. This equates to 0.1% of records.
Due to our Digital Downloads service being free during the closure of our Kew site, currently 100% of digitised CO series records on Discovery are available free of charge to the public. Prior to the closure of the Kew site, of those records available to download digitally 70.9% were free and 29.1% were charged for.

Out of the 9,510 individual images from CO series records which are available on our Image Library website, 100% are charged for.