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The sixteenth annual report and accounts for The National Archives have now been published.

We are a non-ministerial department, and the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. We are the guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents, expert advisers in information and records management, and a cultural, academic and heritage institution.

We fulfill a leadership role for the archives sector and work to secure the future of physical and digital records. Our collection is accessible to everyone all over the world.

This year’s annual report and accounts mark the fourth and final year of achievements for Archives Inspire, our ambitious, audience-focused strategy. 2019 sees the launch of our new strategy Archives for Everyone. Our conviction is that archives are for everyone, and that archives change lives for the better. Forged through experience, this conviction tells in our relationship with our audiences and in our leadership of the nation’s archives.

Read a selection of our 2018-19 highlights and achievements by clicking through the tabs below.

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Government


We provide expert advice and scrutiny, ensuring that the record survives and thrives

● Throughout the year, we accessioned more than 69,970 government records transferred from more than 40 public records bodies.

● This year, we have reflected on how we might best support government departments with their obligations under the Public Records Act (PRA) by taking a closer look at how the working practices of both ourselves and colleagues across government can be better developed. This includes critically assessing the progress and development of our new strategic offer to the UK Government that ensures the Keeper and government departments can successfully meet their legal duties.

● We continued to drive compliance with the PRA across government and to hold departments to account for their obligations under the transition to the 20-year rule, monitoring compliance through the data submitted via the Information Management Report by individual public record bodies.

● We updated our tools, training and support offer to departments and the devolved administrations for publishing legislation, working closely with colleagues from DExEU. Managing several peaks in demand for our new legislation service, we published 600 EU Exit Statutory Instruments. We also published the largest Statutory Instrument ever made, ‘The Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019’.

● We continued our work to bring the primary legislation on legislation.gov.uk fully up-to-date, increasing the proportion of up-to-date Acts to 98% by applying 50,000 amendments to the texts during the year. We also started to revise all the secondary legislation from 2018 onwards, as well as going back to revise some selected texts from previous years.

Government

Ensuring that the record survives and thrives

Public


We work to inspire new ways for people to use and experience our diverse collection

● Our commemorative programme Suffrage 100 included the exhibition ‘Suffragettes versus the State’, which questioned the role the activities of the time played in gaining the vote for some women.

● We hosted a variety of activities to mark the anniversary of the armistice and the end of our First World War 100 centenary programme. Words of Peace brought together two iconic documents from our collection for the first time: the armistice agreement and the Treaty of Versailles.

● Domesday, one of the most significant public records in the world, formed part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War exhibition at the British Library. In addition, an interview about Domesday with one of our records experts featured on the BAFTA-nominated mockumentary ‘Cunk on Britain’, broadening our engagement with new audiences.

● Through our education and schools programme, we taught nearly 12,000 schoolchildren. In November, we let large numbers of schoolchildren loose throughout the archives as part of ‘Kids in Museums Takeover Day’.

● Following an assessment by VisitEngland in July, we embarked on a programme of activities which aim to improve visitors’ experience of The National Archives. We have also been accredited under the Visit England Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme.

Public

archives are for everyone

Archives sector


We are an effective leader and partner for the archives sector, to sustain and develop the nation’s collection

Archives Revealed is the collaborative funding stream dedicated to cataloguing and unlocking archival collections. Last year, with support from The Pilgrim Trust, The Wolfson Foundation and The Foyle Foundation, we awarded £281,258 in cataloguing grants and £54,000 in scoping grants.

● We distributed more than £660,000 of New Burdens funding to 49 local authority places of deposit. The funding supported a number of projects and other improvements, including additional or upgraded storage, and the acquisition of digital preservation systems.

● As part of delivering Archives Unlocked, the UK Government’s strategic vision for archives across England, we launched a workforce development strategy. The strategy aims to develop capacity in the archives workforce to deliver sustainable, resilient and forward-thinking archive services that reflect the communities they serve, meeting their needs and those of wider society.

● The nationwide partnership Archive Service Accreditation scheme was refreshed following a consultation with peers across the sector, and the scheme reopened for applications in the summer. In particular, specific content on digital records risk management was included, having been developed with the Digital Preservation Coalition. There are now more than 140 accredited services throughout the UK.

● ‘Bridging the Digital Gap’, the training programme delivered by The National Archives and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly, the Heritage Lottery Fund), will create 24 paid technical trainees in archives around the UK. Bringing new and relevant skills into the sector, the programme began its first year with eight trainees in post. Further traineeships will start in October 2019.

Archives sector

Securing the future of physical and digital records

Research


We’re focused on advancing knowledge through exemplary academic liaison and outstanding interdisciplinary research

● Last year, we launched our five cross-cutting interdisciplinary research priorities which will shape our research and academic engagement within and outside of The National Archives throughout 2019. We also created a Research Hub, a flexible physical space on site for both colleagues and external collaborators to use for working on research.

● In June 2018, the annual Gerald Aylmer conference, hosted alongside the Royal Historical Society and the Institute of Historical Research, explored ‘Diversity amongst the documents? The representation of BAME communities within the UK’s archives’. There was a strong demand for further work and leadership from The National Archives in this area.

● The sixth annual DCDC conference, delivered jointly with Research Libraries UK (RLUK), took place at the Birmingham conference and events centre. The conference theme, ‘Memory and Transformation’ brought together more than 370 delegates from across the archive, library, museum and academic communities.

● Three new collaborative PhD students started this year, two of them funded through the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme. We have also increased our support for staff to prepare and undertake their own innovative research through a newly established Research Sabbatical scheme.

● This year we supported 14 exhibitions and broadened our global reach by loaning an array of documents to institutions in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia, viewed by more than 800,000 visitors. These exhibitions included the display of the official copy of Captain James Cook’s journal, kept on board HMS Endeavour, for the ‘Cook and the Pacific’ exhibition at the National Library of Australia.

Research

Exemplary academic liaison and interdisciplinary research

Digital


We have made important changes to the ways we think and work, in order to become a digital archive by instinct and design

● With our partners the University of Surrey and the Open Data Institute, we also researched using blockchain (distributed ledger technology) for trusted digital records. We have also experimented in finding ways to verify and assure complex digital objects such as video through ‘deep networks’ and format migrations. Our findings were shared through peer reviewed papers and conference presentations, most recently at the International Council on Archives (ICA) conference in Cameroon, iPRES in Boston, and DocEng in Nova Scotia. Our collaborative research on blockchain was noted in the New York Times.

● In September, we held an international two-day digital symposium in partnership with the ICA-Forum of National Archivists called Archives and AI (Artificial Intelligence). The symposium brought together experts from archives, other sister institutions, and members of the public from the UK and beyond. The event was also our first to be live-streamed.

● We continued to grow our capability as a digital archive, and developed and deployed a new management system for our Digital Records Infrastructure (DRI). This enables digital archivists to carry out a greater range of tasks and speeds up ingest of more diverse digital records. We also refreshed some of the hardware for the DRI to ensure we are protecting and preserving the digital records in our care.

● Developing our own people in new technologies such as cloud computing and machine learning is a key priority. We have done this through apprenticeships, training, study time and learning events. In partnership with Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, our digital apprentices moved into the second year of their two-year programme.

Digital

Becoming a digital archive by instinct and design

Appendices


Core financial tables 2018-19

Download core financial tables 2018-19 (Public spending and Administration budgets).

Summary of public records transmitted to The National Archives

This report is produced annually. It provides a summary of the public records transmitted to The National Archives from various sources. It gives a brief description for each piece, including the dates covered. Download the summary of public records transmitted to The National Archives 2018-19.

Exercise of delegated powers conferred on the Secretary of State by the Public Records Act 1958

This report is produced annually. It gives details on how The National Archives has exercised particular powers delegated to our Chief Executive and Keeper by the Secretary of State. These documents provide information on:

● approval given for the transfer of public records between The National Archives and places of deposit, in either direction

● the appointment of approved places of deposit for public records with specific local relevance or particular specialist and administrative requirements, which are held outside The National Archives

● approval given for the presentation of public records that have not been selected for permanent preservation at The National Archives to other appropriate bodies.

Download the Exercise of delegated powers 2018-19.

Staff engagement survey

Read the results of our staff engagement survey in the Transparency section of our website.

Accounting officer system statements

Alongside our annual report and accounts, HM Treasury ask that government departments prepare Accounting Officer System Statements. Visit GOV.UK to find out more about them.

Read The National Archives Accounting Officer System Statement.

Reports and accounts in the UK Government Web Archive

See reports and appendices from previous years in the UK Government Web Archive: 2012 to 2016 and 2009 to 2012.