Mapping inclusive practice across English regions

About the project

Between January and March 2022, The National Archives is embarking on a new research initiative to understand inclusion work being undertaken in archives across England in different regions. Six investigators will explore inclusion work in the North East, North West, Midlands, East/South East, South West and London.

This project will culminate in a research day to compare findings about inclusive practice in the English regions and collaborate on a document to understand opportunities and barriers across the country. We will use the investigators’ research to inform strategies to support the recordkeeping sector in becoming more inclusive.

The investigators are:

  • Xa White, North East
  • Kirsty Fife, North West
  • Anne Marie Williamson, Midlands
  • Georgina M. Montgomer, East/South East
  • Jeanie Sinclair, South West
  • Abira Hussein, London

This work is being overseen by The National Archives’ Inclusion and Change Manager. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this project, please do get in touch with Rachael Minott at rachael.minott@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Background

The National Archives is the official archive and publisher for the UK government and guardian of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents. Since 2012, The National Archives has held the responsibility for leadership of the archives sector. Part of its purpose is to ensure sustained or improved preservation of and access to the nation’s archive collections across the private, public and voluntary sectors.

The Archive Sector Development department (ASD) is responsible for leadership of the archive sector in England, which comprises over 2,500 archives. Our work is framed by the strategic vision, Archives Unlocked. Our approach to the leadership role is a collaborative one, supporting partnership working to encourage a sustainable and innovative archive sector. Diversity and inclusion are among Archives Unlocked’s priorities for 2020-22.

In 2021, The National Archives launched the Becoming the Inclusive Archive strategy, which spans The National Archives’ workforce, audiences, practices, and position as a global leader. The strategy has a commitment to listen, understand and learn from others pursuing inclusive practice.

What do we mean by inclusive practice in archives?

Our broad working definition of inclusion is ‘work that is using archives to foster a sense of belonging for as many people as possible within communities and diverse groups’. Inclusive practice includes ‘business as usual’ activities and project work. It may take place on site at the archive, online, and within local communities at external sites.
Examples could be:

  • Work addressing barriers to access (for users and staff); focusing on well-being; providing citizen advice; supporting COVID-19 recovery
  • Work pursuing anti-racism and dealing with potentially upsetting histories; intentional work to increase skills in research and accessing information
  • Providing support for financially insecure families; access to digital infrastructure
  • Promoting and supporting topics of relevance to a specific local community or region