Our history

Between 2003 and 2006, four government bodies – each specialising in particular aspects of managing information – joined together to form a single organisation in The National Archives:

  • the Public Record Office, created as a result of the Public Record Office Act 1838 – the national archive of England, Wales and the United Kingdom government, dedicated to preserving key public records and making them accessible to researchers
  • the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, appointed under Royal Warrant in 1869, performs the Historical Manuscripts Commission’s functions in relation to private records
  • His Majesty’s Stationery Office, founded in 1786, holder of Crown copyright and official printer of all Acts of Parliament since 1889
  • the Office of Public Sector Information, created in 2005 following a European Union directive to promote the re-use of information produced and collected by public sector organisations

We bring together the skills and specialisms needed in today’s digital world for managing and preserving government information, building on over 170 years of pioneering work in managing official public records. Our expertise in effective records and information management, and use and re-use of information makes us a valuable resource for over 200 government and public sector bodies; and many other organisations.

Since 2011, we have a leadership role for archives across England that were transferred from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. We work with and support a diverse network of archives, and are an accredited archive service.

We make the record accessible to all audiences, now and for the future.