Foreign-language records and jobs at The National Archives

FOI request reference: F0050144
Publication date: September 2017

Outcome

Successful

Request and Response

Can you answer the following questions for both open and closed records?

1. What is the percentage of foreign language items in the remit (including Latin)?

The percentage of pieces, items and series in a language other than English is as follows:

26,918 pieces out of 7,157,242 pieces (0.3% of pieces)
98,681 items out of 16,221,632 items (0.6% of items)
810 record series out of approximately 18,910 series (4% of series)

For information on the differences between pieces, items and series please see the explanatory annex at the end of the response.

2. What foreign languages are there? (A comprehensive list please)

The National Archives does not hold a comprehensive list of all foreign languages which appear in our records. The following is a partial list of foreign languages which have been identified in our records.

Arabic
Armenian
Chinese
French
German
Greek
Italian
Japanese
Korean
Latin
Portuguese
Norman French
Ottoman Turkish
Persian
Russian
Spanish
Swedish
Turkish
Vietnamese
Welsh
Dutch
Hebrew
Yiddish

3. Have The National Archives advertised for archivist jobs (or assistant archivists) with a second language included in the job specification?

Please find below a table showing jobs advertised by The National Archives which ask that an applicant have sufficient knowledge of a second language.

Job title Second language criteria
Maps Record Specialist Skill in one or more languages (as well as in English)
Reader Adviser – Early Modern Demonstrable Latin and palaeographical skills
Records Specialist – Military and Maritime Demonstrable language and palaeographical skills where required
Records Specialist – Transport Demonstrable language and palaeographical skills where required
Archivist (Catalogue Data) Palaeography skills including the ability to read and decipher 14th-19th Century handwriting and to transcribe basic information from legal Latin
Catalogue Editor Ability to read and decipher 14th-19th Century palaeography and to transcribe basic information from legal Latin (specific training will be given)
Catalogue Editor – Unknown Treasures Project Ability to read and decipher 14th-19th Century palaeography and to transcribe basic information from legal Latin (specific training will be given)

Explanatory Annex

Series: The main grouping of records with a common function or subject. Archive documents maintained as a unit because they result from the same activity or filing process or have a particular form; or because of some other relationship arising from their creation, accumulation or use.

Piece: Usually the level at which a reference becomes an orderable or viewable unit. A piece can be a folder, file, volume or box of documents.

Item: Part of a ‘piece’; an item can be a page, a folder or a bundle of papers. Note that only a minority of records have been described to this level and therefore not all documents have an item number.