Cataloguing projects 2015-16

In general, we release new descriptions gradually so that information becomes searchable as soon as possible. To restrict catalogue searches to a particular project, type its series reference (for example, HO 250) into the search box on the Discovery home page or click on the links below. Once you have found something interesting, you can visit The National Archives in person, or order a copy of the record.

Cataloguing projects finished in the financial year ending March 2016

WO 316 War Office: War of 1914-1918: Western Front: Photographs

This series has now been fully re-catalogued, resulting in the creation of 1,005 item level or enhanced piece level descriptions for the 58 original pieces within the collection. Readers are now able to search the collection by place names and map references, where given on the original documents. This could potentially allow readers to move from War Diary operational material into a photograph when piecing together their First World War research.

BT 99 and BT 400: 1915 Merchant Navy Project (Crew lists)

98 boxes of crew lists held in BT 99 (held by The National Archives) and 676 boxes of crew lists in BT 400 (held by the National Maritime Museum) were transcribed by volunteers working from home. The collection, now name searchable by individual or by ship on Discovery, gives us a snapshot of the Mercantile Marine in World War 1. There are 28,344 new items now in Discovery as a result of the project.

MH 12: Midlands – Local Government Board and predecessors: Correspondence with Poor Law Unions and Other Local Authorities, c 1845-1871

This selected set of 47 volumes, catalogued to item level (c25,000 items; c3.5 million words), for a group of Midland Poor Law Unions (Basford; Bromsgrove; Kidderminster; Mansfield; Newcastle under Lyme; Wolstanton and Burslem) build upon earlier cataloguing of MH 12 records. These records are now searchable by personal name, place name, county, subject, paper number and poor law union number.  They include data on all aspects of the running of 19th century welfare services, workhouse scandals and include the raw data for much of the social history of the 19th century poor.

RAIL 1053: The Railway Accident cataloguing project, 1900-1910

This project has succeeded in cataloguing nearly 7,000 minor railway accidents, from 10 pieces [RAIL 1053/89-98] for the period 1900-1910, covering the whole of Britain. This 10 year period can now be searched by name, job title, date, type of accident, railway company, and location, and will be a useful resource for family, local, railway and academic historians.

FO 368 – FO 373: Foreign Office Correspondence Project, 1906

This project has added over 32,000 entries to Discovery from the series FO 368 to FO 373, for the year 1906, this covers approximately 400 pieces. Users do not need to understand the complicated search process of the card indexes then the FO 566 registers to identify their references; dates, names, places and subjects are all now searchable in Discovery, as well as the File and Paper numbers used by the Foreign Office. This also enables Record Copying to deliver a faster more accurate estimate service. 1906 was done for two reasons: first, because the card index for that year was heavily amended by the Foreign Office and was therefore difficult to interpret; and second to provide an overview for users of what kind of subjects might be found in the poorly catalogued correspondence in both the country system used before 1906 and in the general system started then.

CAB 3: Committee of Imperial Defence: Home Defence Memoranda (A Series), 1901-1939

Cataloguing is now complete for the series CAB 3, Committee of Imperial Defence: Home Defence Memoranda (A Series), 1901-1939. All 8 volumes have been catalogued to item level, giving a description, provenance and date (as well as folio numbers) for each individual memoranda within the volumes. Previously each piece was simply listed with a range of paper numbers, for example, 1-40, and a range of dates. In addition, cross-references were given to the digitised (duplicate) copies of the memoranda, which from 1901 to 1914, are to be found in CAB 38. The highlighting of this additional source is another helpful feature for researchers.

The enhanced descriptions will be of great benefit to military historians, as these memoranda illuminate the changing nature of home defence strategies before, during and after the First World War. The papers give vivid insights into British military psychology – recurring fears of invasion, demonstrated by numerous papers concerning the implications of a Channel Tunnel. Some of the most interesting memoranda concern the ‘Continental air menace’ scare of the early 1920s – the fear that the French air force might be used to bomb Britain.

HO 396: Home Office, Aliens Department: Internees Index

This series contains record slips of Germans, Austrians, Italians and their spouses who were interned or considered for internment during the Second World War. The project covered pieces 1-106, the category of German and Austrian internees who were allowed to remain at liberty. These pieces had been indexed on the Moving Here website (which has now been archived on the UK Government Web Archive). Due to the poor quality of the images on the website there were missing entries, poorly transcribed data and gaps where data had been omitted. A group of volunteers worked through spreadsheets of the entries and using images of the documents filled in as much of the missing data as possible. Where they could the volunteers tried to provide correct place names, however due to the poor clerical recording at the time that the slips were created, some errors and gaps remain. The additional and cleaned up data has now been added to Discovery and 44,778 items have been created. These entries are now searchable by name, data of birth and place of birth on Discovery.

ADM 321: Admiralty, Women’s Royal Naval Service: Registers of Appointments of Officers (Short Service), 1917-1919

There are only two volumes in this series comprising of women’s Royal Navy service records – ADM 321/1 and ADM 321/2. Both have now been itemised, giving a total of 614 item descriptions. The availability of the two documents has been as part of the digital microfilm project. Prior to the cataloguing project both documents would need to be downloaded to consult, as the only means of identifying an entry was using the indexes at the front of each volume as they were not name indexed. Post cataloguing project the records are name searchable and include the date of enlistment for each officer.

 FO 374: Peace Conference of 1919 to 1920: Acts of the Conference

This project took advantage of the specific language skills of a French archival placement student to enhance the cataloguing of a small (35 pieces) but important series of documents relating to the Paris Peace Conference, 1919-1920. The new cataloguing provides enhanced item level descriptions of the volumes and removes confusing entries resulting from when TNA’s catalogue first moved online. New dates have also been provided for many of the documents, giving an accurate reflection both of when the content was produced, and when these specific volumes were published. These improvements should allow readers interested in the Treaty of Versailles, and the end of the First World War more generally, to better access these crucial documents.

Unknown Treasures Project

The Unknown Treasures project (June 2014 – March 2016) has identified and made available an historic backlog of medieval and early modern records that were unsorted and had not been accessioned or made available in Discovery before. The project brought to light over 4,989, files from the Court of Common Pleas, meeting the business target of at least 4,000 files and reducing our historic cataloguing backlog by over 30%. As well as offering considerable potential for research into the legal system during the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this project has demonstrated that it is possible to make significant progress in tackling difficult archival backlogs.

E 115: Exchequer: King’s Remembrancer: Certificates of Residence

The certificates of residence cataloguing project is now complete. This is a very name rich source since each certificate gives the names of the commissioners in charge of assessing the tax in each locality, and the name of the taxpayer and their current residence (and sometimes the place for which they are no longer liable). New orderable pieces were created for the boxes, and the certificates within the boxes (individually checked by a volunteer) are now appearing correctly at item level with specific references (all previous unreferenced items now having been removed, and entries which had composite descriptions/references are now listed individually). Formerly missing items (c 3,000 entries) have now been catalogued, and the pieces and items are also now in catalogue reference order (492 pieces and 67,606 items).

WO 317, WO 319, WO 323, WO 153/1268-1275 and WO 153/1345-1346: First World War photographic collections

The enhancement of catalogue descriptions for First World War photographs and associated sketches, maps and plans has now been completed for 42 pieces in total from: WO 317 Gallipoli (14 pieces); WO 319 Palestine (6 pieces); WO 323 Italian campaign (12 pieces); WO 153 (10 pieces). This project followed on from the Western Front Photographs cataloguing project WO 316 completed in April 2015.

It is now possible to gauge the extent of the collections listed. Photographs in the records series listed above have been itemised and format of photograph have been included where appropriate. Where possible and practical, annotations found in documents and place names have also been included in descriptions.

E 179: Hearth Tax Exemption Certificates – Staffordshire (phase completion)

The list of Staffordshire hearth tax exemption certificates (E 179/344) is now available on Discovery. There are 856 certificates in total.

ZSPC 11: RAIL Photographs (phase completion)

ZSPC 11 is a special collection comprising railway related photographs, postcards, cuttings, tickets and ephemera. The completion of phase II of this project sees another 82 volumes of material catalogued to item level (around 2,160 items).  A total of 64% of the series is now fully described on Discovery covering the Great Central Railway; Great Eastern Railway; London, Brighton & South Coast Railway; London Chatham & Dover Railway; London & North Western Railway; South Eastern Railway; London Midland & Scottish Railway; Southern Railway; plus Underground, Irish and military railways; facilitating research and conservation of the varied media in this eclectic series.