Advice to private archives

Private archives encompass the archives of non-public organisations including businesses, charities, religious bodies and private individuals. For example:

  • corporate bodies, such as estates and trusts
  • charitable foundations and organisations of all kinds, such as schools, colleges and religious institutions
  • a vast array of societies and associations, such as political parties, pressure groups, sport and recreational clubs, and businesses

Individuals can be owners who have acquired papers by inheritance, as a gift, through collecting activity or have accumulated personal papers in the pursuit of a career or profession. They may be the current owners of historic collections of family, estate or other papers.

What The National Archives can offer archive owners

As part of our archival leadership and in carrying out the functions of the Historical Manuscript Commission, we offer impartial, confidential and free advice on the long-term care of private records, particularly:

  • the historical interest of collections of papers
  • the care, preservation and storage of records
  • guidance on the sorting and listing of records
  • information on suitable places of deposits
  • information on the location of related manuscript collections
  • assistance in identifying further sources of help and advice
  • general guidance on the availability of tax concessions for owners of manuscripts

For more information, please contact Archive Sector Leadership.

Charity archives

Charity archives support and development plan
Our charity archives support and development plan will build on and complement the work of the Charity Archivists and Records Managers Group (CHARM), the Archiving the Mixed Economy of Welfare project, and other initiatives. We are currently seeking to create a steering group that will work with us to develop this programme of support for charity archives.

Find out more about the support plan and steering group

Retention and transfer management framework
This retention and transfer management framework is designed to support recordkeeping for the charity and voluntary sector. Charities and voluntary organisations play a significant role within our society, representing a variety of aspects of daily life.

Archivists and Records Managers share a common interest in managing the records lifecycle and this framework unites approaches to records retention from archival and records management. The framework provides tools that both professions can use to manage each stage of the records lifecycle, as well as model rules for the retention of records.

Before reading the framework, please first read the special notice about documents relevant to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Advice on depositing archives

Owners or custodians of archival collections occasionally deposit their papers with record repositories instead of transferring them permanently.

We offer impartial advice to owners and custodians holding all types of manuscript records on where and how to deposit their collections in the United Kingdom. For advice on records in your custody that you wish to deposit, please contact Archives Sector Leadership.

Surveying historical records

Surveys of historical records are a way of gathering information about the range and extent of archival collections on a common theme. They provide important additional information on records not otherwise listed in the National Register of Archives or other central sources of information.