Background of the forum

The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (HMC) was set up to locate and record the contents and location of private papers of historical interest (apart from public records) and to advise on preservation, storage and access. The board of commissioners was appointed by HM The Queen, and Lord Bingham was Chair until 2003.

In response to significant technology changes taking place and issues affecting public and private archives, HMC merged with the then Public Record Office (PRO) in 2003 to create The National Archives. The aim was to increase the HMC’s capacity and the impact it was able to have within the sector. Since the merger in 2003, the functions of the HMC have been undertaken in what is now the Archives Sector Development department at The National Archives.

The Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research has been set up to increase the visibility of historical manuscripts and scholarly research, and also bring to the fore the issues affecting private archives.