Online events

Discover archives with exciting online talks, delivered by our specialists and guest speakers.

When you book an event, you are invited to pay what you can. The cost is optional and entirely at your discretion.

Talks are available to watch for 48 hours after the event. See our Frequently asked questions to find out more about registering and accessing online events.

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May 2024

SAS Great Escapes with Damien Lewis

  • Wednesday 29 May 2024, 19:30

Join historian and author Damien Lewis discussing his latest book, SAS Great Escapes 3.

Discover some of the most dramatic and daring escapes undertaken by the SAS, the world’s most famous fighting force during WWII. From the very earliest SAS missions to the post D-day battles for Nazi-occupied Europe, Damien Lewis will uncover some of the iconic operations of the Regiment and the key figures involved.

Encounter tales of deception and knife edge encounters as well as acts of courage and kindness from those risking their lives to help escapees on their way.

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June 2024

An African History of Africa

  • Wednesday 5 June 2024, 19:30

The epic history of the oldest inhabited continent on the planet told by Zeinab Badawi.

Africa’s history has long been dominated by western narratives of slavery and colonialism, or simply ignored. Join award-winning broadcaster Zeinab Badawi as she sets the record straight to guide us through Africa’s spectacular history from the origins of our species, through ancient civilisations and medieval empires with remarkable queens and kings, to the miseries of conquest and the elation of independence.

Visiting more than thirty African countries to interview historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, and local storytellers, Zeinab Badawi unearths buried histories from across the continent to give Africa its rightful place in our global story told through the voices of Africans themselves.

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Using Discovery, The National Archives’ online catalogue

  • Friday 7 June, 14:00

Join us to learn top tips for using Discovery, our online catalogue which allows you to download 100 free records a month. You will come away with all of the tools needed to make the most of the catalogue for your research, whether you are a new user or an experienced researcher.

This webinar will be delivered by Sarah Castagnetti, Visual Collections Team Manager.

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Portrait photo of Simon Parkin beside the cover of his book, The Island of Extraordinary Captives.

The Island of Extraordinary Captives

  • Wednesday 12 June 2024, 19:30

On 13 July 1940 the British government opened Hutchinson, an internment camp on the Isle of Man for so-called ‘enemy aliens’ – German, Austrian and Italian passport holders living in Britain at the time. Among the inmates were world-renowned artists, musicians, and intellectuals. Despite their captivity, they remained resilient, transforming their prison into an artistic and academic community.

Simon Parkin tells the gripping story and of these extraordinary captives and how they found hope even in the most challenging of circumstances.

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Photo of James Holland beside the cover of his book, The Savage Storm.

The Savage Storm: The Battle for Italy with James Holland

  • Wednesday 19 June 2024, 19:30

Join bestselling historian James Holland to explore the brutal story of the most pivotal campaign of the Second World War.

Allied forces crossed into Southern Italy in September 1943 expecting a swift victory. Despite Italy’s surrender, fierce German resistance turned this battle into one of the most brutal of the war.

James Holland will be discussing these dark, dramatic months in unflinching detail. He has used a wealth of documents, including letters and diaries, to reveal more about this pivotal phase of the war than ever before.

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Catland: Feline enchantment and the making of the modern world

  • Friday 21 June 2024, 14:00

Join historian and author Kathryn Hughes for a fascinating feline exploration of Victorian society and discover how Britain was taken over by the ‘cult of the cat’.

By the end of the nineteenth century, cats no longer had to earn their keep by catching mice. Instead, Victorian and Edwardian Britain fell in love with cats, in part due to social and economic forces, but also due to the work of artist Louis Wain, whose drawings of anthropomorphic cats delighted the world.

Kathryn Hughes tells the incredible story of how the country became obsessed with cats, and the life of the prolific illustrator who transformed the image of cats forever.

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Family History: Using Military history records

  • Friday 28 June 2024, 14:00

Discover popular military records and how they can be used in your family history research.

In this webinar, our experts will draw on collections held at The National Archives and explore how using these sources can enrich genealogical research and help develop your understanding of an ancestor’s time in military service. This webinar will focus on army, navy and other records prior to the Second World War.

This webinar is presented by Will Butler, Head of Military Records.

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July 2024

MI9: Escape and Evasion in the Second World War

  • Friday 12 July 2024, 14:00

Join historian and author Helen Fry to learn about MI9, the Second World War organisation that engineered the escape of Allied forces from behind enemy lines.

MI9 set up clandestine escape routes that zig-zagged across Nazi-occupied Europe, enabling soldiers and airmen to make their way back to Britain. Central to MI9’s success were figures such as Airey Neave, the first British prisoner to successfully escape from Colditz, and Mary Lindell, one of only a few women parachuted into enemy territory for MI9.

Helen will be revealing that not only did MI9 save thousands of Allied lives, it contributed to a massive intelligence effort that impacted on the Allies’ ability to turn the tide of the war.

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Missed an event or can’t watch a talk live?

Talks are available to watch for 48 hours after the event. You will be sent a link to the recording after the event is over.