Current projects

Grants awarded July 2022

North West Heads of Repositories

This grant will help establish a sound archives network for the North West Region, administered by the North West Heads of Repositories partnership. The group will help archivists around the region by identifying and meeting training and equipment needs in order to digitise and improve access to sound recordings which would otherwise be lost to history. Neil MacInnes, Head of Libraries, Galleries & Culture at Manchester City Council, said ‘This generous Networks for Change grant allows us to continue the work that Unlocking Our Sound Heritage has started. It will help us share our region’s under-used sound archives, and to upskill those around the region who look after these unique and at risk sound recordings.’

Learning Arc

Learning Arc connects learning officers in a diverse range of archives across the North East. Over the last few years, they have moved from being a collaborative network, working together on projects, to being a supportive network, helping one another try out new ideas and respond to the challenges of the pandemic. Now, they are looking forward, reflecting and wanting to embrace change. This funding will enable them to commission a researcher to work with local teachers to establish what schools need from the sector. This will help to determine the direction Learning Arc takes in the future. Ross Wilkinson, Learning and Engagement Manager at Durham University and Chair of Learning Arc said “This is a fantastic opportunity not only to establish our future direction, but to really find out what teachers need from our archives and how we can best support them, and each other.’

Archives South West

The Archives South West network, led by Bristol Archives, is collaborating to form South West Sounds, a new project to build on the success of Unlocking Our Sound Heritage in the region. Through this funding, they’ll assess audio holdings across Archives South West and other regional collections to produce an audio preservation, access and engagement plan. They’ll also work towards further funding to digitise and share at-risk recordings.

Grants awarded April 2022

Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative

With this grant, the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative (AAAI) will undertake three strands of work: a survey and guide for archival records of airline operators, a professional website re-design, and a conference. The survey and guide will provide valuable information on the location of, and access to, material that is relevant to the archive sector and researchers. Given the detrimental impact of the  coronavirus pandemic on the airline sector, a survey and guide to where its archives are held and the ability to identify archives at risk is timely. A professionally designed website will make the AAAI’s current and future record surveys more visible and easier to navigate and will give the network a platform on which to share resources and best practice guidelines. The conference will further raise the profile of the AAAI and serve to develop and enhance connections between individuals and across organisations. It will also be an opportunity to promote the use of archive material for research, enthusing historians and academics to get back into archives following the pandemic.

‘This funding from The National Archives will enable the AAAI to continue the fantastic work that members have already achieved in creating resources for researchers and custodians of aviation and aerospace archives. Collaboration on the different strands of the project will bring together current network members, increase awareness of the network and enhance the scope of the AAAI’s records surveying work.’ – Louise Clarke, Archivist, Aerospace Bristol

Chief Archivists in Local Government – CALGG

As we approach the centenary of the 1926 Adoption Act and the potential loss of key personal, familial and societal information, this project will use a survey, research and focus group to examine the current volumes, formats, locations, retention status and perceived value of records relating to adoption and people with experience of care. The project will draw upon the views of care-experienced people, record-keepers and social care professionals as to the factors and considerations implicit in appraising and determining the preservation status of these records. There will also be analysis of digital recordkeeping practices and the data storage policy. Building on a solid evidence base, we aim to produce robust guidance and best-practice retention schedules to inform decision-making in relation to these key record sets. The project will then promote this resource to the widest possible audience.

Places, Plants and People archive network

The creation of the Places, Plants and People archive network will bring together a diverse group of archives with holdings on living landscapes, plants and their place in communities. The network is led by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Museum of English Rural Life, and incorporates a diverse range of members. These members include The National Trust, Black Environment Network, Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Cambridge University Herbarium and Library for the Department of Plant Sciences, Garden Museum, Linnean Society, Harper Adams University, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and The Mills Archive Trust.

The network has six key areas on which it would like to deliver within its first 2 years:

  • Promoting the visibility, wider understanding, and greater use of archives in this subject area
  • Joint working to increase accessibility, capitalising on digital opportunities, including the creation of a network website and online exhibitions
  • Improving the discoverability of collections through joint working on cross-domain classification and data standards, leveraging the connections of partners
  • Acting as a forum for development of funded research collaborations, enabling archives to be proactive in research and the delivery of research impact
  • Improved co-ordination of acquisitions and rescues, including developing strategies to meet challenges of born-digital records, and – by taking an inclusive approach – capturing records that would otherwise be lost
  • Developing a partnership vision and governance structure

The network is open to new members and we are committed to being a diverse and inclusive network. Please contact or to find out more.

‘We are delighted and very thankful to The National Archives for this grant, which will allow a diverse group of archives with holdings of botanical, agricultural and horticultural archives, and records of landscape preservation, landscape architecture and land management to connect in a sustainable and meaningful way with other archives that hold overlapping and complementary collections. It will allow us to share expertise and work together on common themes and issues – from digital challenges, social media presence and online exhibitions to inclusion, coordinating acquisitions and discoverability – as well as providing a common voice for archives such as ours.’ – Fiona Ainsworth, Head of Library and Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

‘Our museum was established to record the disappearance of a sustainable rural way of life in order to understand and learn from the past. Over the years, the archives we hold – of food production, landscape, conservation and rural cultures – have helped to further that understanding, but they can never achieve such an ambitious goal alone. The partnerships that this network will establish and nurture will help all like-minded archives to improve our practice, better connect with our audiences, and be bolder in approaching the challenges of the digital age. We are delighted to be part of this exciting venture.’ – Guy Baxter, Head of Archive Services, Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading

Grants awarded December 2021

The Army Museums Ogilby Trust

With this grant, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust (AMOT) will undertake a programme of development for the network. This will include training days, practical support and the creation of resources, including guidance and case studies, to be shared with the network and beyond. The development programme will focus on the 92 network members participating in the new First World War online archive, The Ogilby Muster. However, given the ability to provide some of the training through Zoom, AMOT will be able to open training to non-participating members as well as heritage collections beyond the AMOT network if numbers allow, resulting in a wide dissemination of best practice across multiple organisations.

The development project will offer training in the areas of handling and caring for archives, preventative conservation, effective cataloguing and the creation of digital metadata, training on copyright (including digital copyright) and the promotion of archives through online platforms such as social media to increase accessibility and engagement. AMOT will also continue to run a training programme on the effective use of the First World War Archive platform itself for all participating collections. Following the training, participating collections will be supported in implementing lessons learnt, such as through funding to buy conservation-grade material.

Andrew Lloyd MBE, Director of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, said:

‘Our thanks go to The National Archives for the award of this grant. This funding will help to encourage skills and knowledge within the network for both the physical and digital management and care of archives. In addition, the work will contribute to the ongoing development of the new First World War online archive, The Ogilby Muster, ensuring increased accessibility and long-term preservation.’

Grants awarded November 2020

Merseyside Archives Liaison Group

Since its formation in 1986, the Merseyside Archives Liaison Group (MALG) has grown into a wide network encompassing the full spectrum of archive services from across the Merseyside region. MALG’s mission is to ensure that Merseyside’s rich archival heritage will be safeguarded for the future and accessible to all. Over the last 12 months, MALG has identified its vision and created a new development plan consisting of multiple workstreams. The Networks for Change grant will be used to creatively deliver on the first workstream, Advocacy, which will raise awareness of MALG through re-branding and information sharing as a first step in strengthening the network.

The learning outcomes gained from developing the Networks for Change bid, and improving upon the initial endeavour, will prove invaluable in the future. The experience has given confidence to members to engage further in sharing the progress of the project with other colleagues in the sector who may be looking to develop their own networks.

‘I found the enthusiasm from members to pull this bid together to strengthen the network and push for real change really encouraging and it gave real hope for the future of the region’s archive services. The funding will allow MALG to re-brand and promote each of the services, which we know is the first step in developing future collaborations.’ – Helena Smart, from Liverpool Record Office

Grants awarded August 2020

Archives West Midlands

Archives West Midlands (AWM) has been awarded a Networks for Change grant for its ‘No Barriers’ project. This exciting project will enable a positive action trainee to be recruited from a BAMER group to a funded 12-month placement. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will host the trainee with an additional placement at Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies. The trainee will research and scope a project to identify potential resources on diverse communities within collections across member services and the current barriers to access. The trainee will design a project to highlight diversity and hidden stories within the collections of member services. Working in partnership with The National Archives and the Archives and Records Association UK, AWM will support and mentor the trainee to provide a pathway for them into the archive sector workforce. The project and trainee experience will be evaluated and the lessons learned will be shared with members services and the wider sector.

‘I am delighted that AWM will be able to take forward No Barriers to support our members in diversifying access to their collections and providing a positive experience for a trainee to enter the archive sector workforce.’ – Janene Cox OBE, Chair of Archives West Midlands

‘We welcome the opportunity to support this exciting initiative to make the museums world more inclusive, in terms of both our workforce and the audiences we reach.  We look forward to working with the positive action trainee to open up our archive to diverse communities in new ways.’ – Paul Taylor, Acting Director of Cultural Engagement at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

‘We are honoured to be involved with the No Barriers project where history and archival studies will help understand the past to help shape the future for the better. We are excited that we will be providing experience to the successful applicant within the archives sector and sharing history and our collection.’ – Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy

Film Archives UK

The ‘Projecting Digital Futures’ project seeks to build a stronger, representative and collective voice for public-access film archives and will develop strategic objectives and plans critical to digital capacity and skills. The project is led by Film Archives UK, a unique network supporting the specialist area of public-access audio-visual archives. At a critical moment of change, Projecting Digital Futures will facilitate a series of investigations focused on digital capacity and resources, skills training and leadership. The project will not only result in a targeted action plan prioritising future activity that will address key challenges, but it will also provide an in-depth understanding of the current state of the sector.

‘This work is essential to refocusing strategy and building a representative and collaborative action plan that will strengthen Film Archives UK and benefit our members and the wider archives sector we support.’ – Dr Clare Watson, Chair of Film Archives UK, Director of the Media Archive for Central England and Associate Professor at the University of Lincoln

Association of New Town Archives and Museums

This new network brings together the archives and museums that hold significant collections of post-war new town material. It involves 19 archives and museums from across England. The purpose of the network is to share knowledge between members about activities relating to new town archives. This includes sharing good practice in cataloguing, engaging with families and young people, working with local history and heritage societies, and making links with researchers and universities. The members of the new network are at very different stages of engagement with their new town collections and there is significant potential for peer learning. Secondly, the network provides time and space to develop larger scale collaborative funding bids. The network is open to new members in England and welcomes interest from museums, local history centres and academics researching new towns.

New towns mark an important turning point in British history and are a unique contribution to urban development. British new towns have relevance today for new towns being rapidly developed in Asia, Africa, South America and ‘new’ new towns being planned here in Britain. Many British new towns are facing a period of rapid change, with the developments of the post-war period being replaced with little thought given to the original intentions in their design or to the architectural significance of the buildings that are removed. These post-war new towns are paradoxically popular with their long-term residents while having a poor external perception. Greater engagement with new town archives can help make connections between long-term new town residents and recent arrivals, helping to build a community and aid social integration.

The archive collection of some new towns have drawn the attention of international scholars and generated books, journal articles and symposia. Others have had relatively little attention, in part due to the lack of cataloguing and also the low profile of the collections. A better understanding of post-war new towns can be valuable in positively shaping their future, and this understanding can be achieved through greater access to and engagement with post-war archives.

To find out more about the network, please contact Dr Alina Congreve, the network co-ordinator, or Richard Anderson at Essex Record Office.

Archives South West

‘This newspaper digitisation project is really important to the newly constituted Archives South West network.  It gives us the capacity to deliver our first collaborative project, strengthens our network and the individual local authority services across the region, and enables us to tackle a knotty issue strategically.  We very much look forward to sharing the results more widely.’ – Heather Forbes, Gloucestershire County Archivist & Chair, Archives South West

Grants awarded January 2020

Connecting Manchester’s Music Archives

Lead partner: Royal Northern College of Mus
Other network partners: The Hallé and the Henry Watson Music Archive

The connections between these archives are undeniable. Often a musician studies at the Royal Manchester College of Music or the Northern School of Music (predecessors of the Royal Northern College of Music), they then work within one of the Hallé’s musical bodies such as the orchestra or choir, and are later recorded as performing with a local group or production, the records of which are held within the Henry Watson Music Library.

Via a structured network, the 3 archivists can work together to formalise ways in which its resources can most effectively bring these connected stories and collections to researchers and the wider public, both online and through events. For instance, the platform of the Manchester Digital Music Archive could be ideal for sharing the digitised archives telling these stories. The impact of our collections in isolation is mainly passive and reactionary, serving the individuals who contact us. However, the combined and focused impact of the network could be active.

We are also sharply aware that much archival evidence telling musicians’ stories before, after or even in between the activities evidenced in our combined collections are held in archives elsewhere in the country. Archivists of other conservatoires, orchestras and special collections need to be actively consulted during the formative time, in order to ensure that the network we establish is useful to these services as well.

‘This fantastic opportunity brings together the archives of three important Manchester institutions, making the city’s rich musical past available to a wider and more diverse public.’ – Dr Barbara Kelly, Director of Research at the Royal Northern College of Music


Lead partner: King’s College London
Other network partners: Museum of Freemasonry, Tower Hamlets Local history Library and Archives, Royal Geological Society, The Mercers Company and King’s College London Archives

This grant will allow the AIM25 charity (Archives in London and the M25 area) to kickstart its plans to provide digital preservation to London’s archival community. It will support the testing of a new framework, service and tools that will enable smaller institutions to appraise, preserve and produce their digital holdings in a cost effective way. Many are otherwise too small or without staffing capacity to consider the procurement of a standalone digital preservation system. The project builds on other successful consortium initiatives involving AIM25 members, most recently to map and catalogue collections relating to London’s Jewish history and culture.

‘This project will provide real practical help to archives in London wanting to preserve their digital holdings.’ – Geoff Browell, Chair of AIM25

Archives for Wellbeing

Lead partner: Norfolk Record Office
Other network partners: East Anglia Film Archive, Surrey History Centre, Derbyshire Record Office, Lancashire Archives, Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Gwent Archives, Bristol Archives, Scottish Council on Archives, The Restoration Trust and the Royal Irish Academy

At the heart of the Archives for Wellbeing Network is the idea that using archives can improve the wellbeing of people with mental health problems.  Projects like Norfolk’s Change Minds have shown this to be true and now there is a strong demand for similar programmes across the UK. This network will help archives develop these wellbeing projects as well as helping build skills in the sector so that this work can be sustained.

‘The Archives for Wellbeing Network will provide support for building partnerships with mental-health service providers – partnerships that direct work toward those who will benefit the most – and for securing the funding these projects need.’ – Gary Tuson, County Archivist at Norfolk Record Office