Each year The National Archives asks archive services in the UK and Ireland to send a list of new archival material they have accessioned during the previous 12 months. In order to allow for more accurate analysis of trends and collecting practices within the sector, some changes were implemented in the 2016 Accessions programme. Please consult the Accessions to Repositories Guidance below for further details.

Accessions to Repositories 2016

The Accessions to Repositories 2017 survey is now open.

Please submit returns by 1st February 2018.

The template has been adapted to support our data analysis work. All participants should use this updated template to send in their returns:

Template: Accessions template 2017 (XLS, 0.23MB)

Please do not make changes to the format of the template as this will affect our ability to analyse the information accurately. The methods we use to analyse the data rely on the format being as uniform as possible, which is why we have introduced some new guidelines around filling in the template. Please read the appropriate guidance before submitting a return.

Guidance: Accessions to Repositories Guidance (general) 2017 (PDF, 0.22MB)

Guidance for local authority Places of Deposit: Accessions to Repositories Guidance (local authority places of deposit) 2017 (PDF, 0.25MB)

20-year rule and local authority Places of Deposit

Local authority places of deposit need to complete the survey using the template above and mark up any public record accessions.

Without receipt of accessions returns by the 1st February 2018 deadline, we cannot guarantee payments of New Burdens funding to local authority places of deposit.

If you have accessioned records eligible for New Burdens funding, you will need to respond to any request for confirmation of stated quantities and agreement to the terms by 27th February 2018 for payment to be authorised.

For more information on completing the return for local authority places of deposit, please see our specific guidance above. Further details about New Burdens and eligibility for local authority places of deposit are available on the 20 year rule web page.

Changes to the Accessions Survey

Following a comprehensive review of Accessions to Repositories in 2016, the focus of the programme moved to analysis of the data, now published as a report. We aim to continue and extend this work for the 2017 survey.

Please send us the details of all the archival material accessioned in 2017, without filtering the information. The analysis of this full data will enable us to examine important questions including:

  • Where are the collecting hubs in the country?
  • Are certain types of institutions driving collecting? By how much?
  • Differentials in levels of collecting
  • What are the emerging themes from the content of what is being collected?
  • What is the scale of collecting across the sector and what proportion is digital?
  • Who are the primary creators of records being accessioned?

The results of this analysis will be shared with the archive sector as well as researchers.

Please let us know your new collection highlights over 2017. These should be newly accessioned records that you believe to have the strongest evidential, cultural and societal impact. Information about these highlights will be made available within Discovery and may be publicised on The National Archives’ social media outlets.

Accessions data will also be published on in order to cultivate transparency and allow researchers access to the entire set of reported accessions.

Accessions data

The survey provides a vital knowledge base for The National Archives’ work with the wider sector. The information gathered allows us to:

  • extend Discovery’s coverage of other archives’ records
  • track documents and records identified as part of our Sales Monitoring Service
  • monitor public records and manorial document transfers
  • analyse collecting patterns and trends
  • trace the location of archives and manuscripts

The 2016 survey has surfaced a number of interesting records and collections such as a letter to John Pigott, High Sheriff of Somerset, concerning the Rye House Plot in 1683, and correspondence between author Sir Terry Pratchett and writer Henye Meyer. Further highlights are publicised in our report, and the full dataset can be accessed through  To find out more about collections discovered through past surveys, read our blog.

Find out more about how we make collections information available here.

More information

For further information about the Accessions programme or to discuss submitting a return after the deadline, please email us.