Misplaced items

The National Archives’ collection comprises more than 15 million documents spanning nearly 1,000 years of UK history. Our paper collection, housed on more than 240km of shelving, continues to grow every year.

The National Archives has been providing public access to the collection since the 1850s and produces lists of everything that we know has been misfiled from that date until now.

While we make concerted efforts to ensure that everything is filed in its correct place, there are inevitably a few documents that are misfiled from roughly one million document moves that we undertake each year.

You can access the current list of misfiled documents (XLS, 0.4 MB). Discovery, our online catalogue, also lists where individual files or portions of a record are unavailable. This is updated daily.

Each misfiled document has a date associated with it. This is the procedure we follow for allocating dates to misfiled documents:

  1. If available, we will provide the date at which the document was officially classed as missing on our computer systems.
  2. Where this is not available, the date of the missing search sheets (pre-computer) has been used.
  3. Some documents that have been missing from before the computer era have no misfiled date associated with them. Where this is the case we have used 24/05/1999. This is the date when the current computer system was first activated.

This list is updated annually. The current list was generated in September 2023.

Each document is listed as misfiled only after a dedicated search has been completed and the search papers filed where the document should be stored in the collection. Searches for newly misfiled documents are undertaken every Monday. The vast majority of these searches will locate the document before it is officially listed as missing.

Misfiled documents that have not been found at the search stage are occasionally found while producing records from other boxes.

There are two dedicated descriptions in Discovery that we use for misfiled records.

  • Missing – Misfiled at Kew.

These are whole documents that have been misfiled while stored in The National Archives. Normally this happens during the document returns process after viewing.

  • Misplaced – Misplaced while on loan by a government department.

These are whole documents or whole extracts from documents that have been misplaced while on recall by the originating government department away from The National Archives.