Inclusive illustrations

About these illustrations

The National Archives has worked with the illustrator Erin Aniker to commission four artworks that feature users and volunteers within both physical and digital archival spaces.

We have commissioned these illustrations to support archives in fostering a sense of belonging in as many people as possible. This project uses the power of illustration to advocate for the diversity of archival experiences and identities.

How to use these illustrations

These illustrations are free for archives services to use.

Whenever you use these illustrations, please credit them as: ‘Using Archives, by Erin Aniker 2021, © The National Archives (UK)’

Why use these illustrations?

Promoting inclusion visually is important as many people connect the idea of belonging with representation. However, we know that it can be difficult to find the right imagery. Through this project, we are exploring the potential of using illustrations to move away from:

  • Potentially objectifying staff and users by using photography of them in an attempt to promote diversity
  • Relying on possibly upsetting imagery such as records from colonial history, records created as a form of monitoring and surveillance, or records used as propaganda or with unethical motives

These illustrations will not solve the issue of under-representation, and they are not a veneer for misrepresenting the diversity of staff and users. They are intended for use when talking about the work of your archive, to promote the inclusive service you are working towards.

Who should use these illustrations?

Archive services can use these illustrations if they lack appropriate imagery or the funds to commission artworks that would promote their services while fostering a sense of belonging within their archives for a diverse group of people.

If you’d like to use these illustrations, you should already be working towards becoming a more inclusive service by addressing the barriers to access within your archive. Please only use these illustrations if you are considering inclusion more holistically across your services but are working with limited resources.

Where do I find them?

To get started, click on a thumbnail below. Once clicked, each thumbnail will load in a new tab – right click the image, and select ‘save image as’ to download it.

Illustration of a typical reading room. There is a bookshelf top left, a person sitting at an enquiries desk top right, two people sitting at a reading table in the centre, someone sitting at a computer bottom right, and a person pushing a trolley bottom left

Reading rooms

Illustration of four volunteers, working with documents


Illustration of a group of school children, lining up outside an archive

Outside space

Illustration of a person on a video call with four people

Online space