To find out more, or to discuss proposals for potential collaborations
Building a future for archives on a global scale
The National Archives wants to work with collaborators from around the world. By working with other government bodies, archives, cultural and heritage organisations, academic institutions and businesses worldwide, we want to drive the development of an exciting future for archives on a global scale. Together, we believe we can change the way people think about archives all over the world.
Get in touch to discuss how we can:
- explore ways to promote the value of and open up access to archival collections
- develop innovative resources and networks that drive the sharing of knowledge and expertise
- pioneer sustainable solutions for the future of digital preservation
- identify opportunities to generate income through appropriate and profitable commercial activity
- support policy development, standard setting and access to legislation
Our international work is driven by our strategic ambitions – read about them in Archives Inspire 2015-19.
Learn more about some of our projects and how they have benefited from collaboration.
Enabling research opportunities
The National Archives holds the Prize Papers archive: hundreds of thousands of letters and papers confiscated from ships captured by the British in wartime between 1652 and 1815. It is rare to find a collection demonstrating such a breadth of ordinary voices in multiple languages. The Prize Papers form a unique resource of great potential value to researchers in the history of the lived experience of warfare, trade, seafaring, colonisation, slavery, religious beliefs, health, and family interactions; in the practice and importance of communication by sea; and in popular literacy, dialect, and linguistics.
Cataloguing a collection of this size is a considerable undertaking. We are describing these documents on Discovery, our online catalogue, by the name of the ship on which they were captured. However, to fully realise the full research potential of the Prize Papers, each individual letter also needs to be identified and described.
Through conversations with international academics and institutions for whom the collection is of utmost importance, we have been able to establish collaborations that can help us take the project to the next level. With these partnerships in place, new possibilities for research will emerge over the next decade as the contents of the letters themselves become searchable.
Improving digital preservation
In 2001 we developed an online file format registry called PRONOM. The database stores information about past and emerging file formats and helps us develop the right preservation strategies for ensuring long-term access to digital records.
We made PRONOM available to all in 2005. With the help of a range of international contributors, including The British Library, National Library of New Zealand and Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the database has since become a rich and widely-used resource.
Collaboration has enabled PRONOM to become a tool that’s useful to digital archives across the world; preventing the unnecessary duplication of research and increasing the likelihood of more digital files being cared for appropriately.
Easier access to legislation
Access to legislation is the cornerstone of a fair and democratic society. People need to be able to cite, compare and share legislation as part of their job – particularly governments, law and multinational companies.
How can we make it quicker and easier for people to get to the information they need when each country in Europe operates within its own legal system and uses different technologies to store and display legislation online?
To produce a solution to this problem, The National Archives joined forces with other technical experts from the Council of the European Union Legislation Working Party on E-Law to create a European Legislation Identifier (ELI), a standard devised for online legislation publishers. The ELI advocates a standard format for web links and metadata for online legislation documents, meaning that data across the EU will be managed in a consistent way. It is now being implemented by national legislation sites across Europe.
Download legislation visualisation (PDF 70KB).
To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, The National Archives partnered with King’s College London to produce By me William Shakespeare, an exhibition of unique documents relating to the playwright’s life – including his will – from The National Archives’ collection. The display was held in the East Wing, Somerset House, based in the centre of London, and allowed audiences from home and abroad to experience history in one of King’s spaces for cultural engagement.
Partnering with King’s College London enabled us to deliver an ambitious, large-scale project and bring our documents to new audiences. Through collaboration we were able to combine resources, exchange knowledge, introduce our audiences and learn from each institution’s expertise to develop new working models for the future.