Archival Research Skills for Historians: Modern British Programme

Course date(s): 
8 Apr 2013 to 12 Apr 2013
15 Jul 2013 to 19 Jul 2013
As of 11/02/13, both courses are full, with long waiting lists, and so registration is now closed.


The National Archives, in partnership with the Institute for Historical Research, is offering a series of week-long workshops for postgraduates on archival research skills for historians, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

The workshops will provide you with the skills necessary to undertake effective and focused archival research, tailored to the current academic environment. By joining one of the workshops, you will learn about contemporary methodologies relating to record creation, explore a range of document types and their interrelationships, understand how to interpret and analyse source material, discover modern archival arrangements, and practice methods of locating available sources, both traditional and technologically innovative. The training will be delivered by specialists from The National Archives, the Institute of Historical Research, and East Sussex and Berwick Record Offices. All sessions take place at The National Archives, offering an unparalleled opportunity for guided interactive exploration of the largest and most varied collection of historic records in the world.

Places are limited. Priority will be given to AHRC funded students, but applications from all postgraduate students are welcome. This is a week long course, and attendance will be expected each day.

The workshops are free, and expenses will be covered, including accommodation (if required) at a hotel close to the National Archives in Kew, travel costs (up to a maximum of £75) and subsistence (up to a standard daily rate).

The workshops are divided into three strands: medieval, early modern and modern British. The modern strand of the workshops will take place from 8-12 April 2013 and will be repeated on 15-19 July 2013. The programme is below.

For further information, please contact:


Course details

Monday 8 April – Introduction to Archives and TNA’s catalogue

10.00 -11.00  Registration & coffee

11.00-12.00   Welcome and introduction; tour of the Library and Reading Rooms

12.00 -1.00    How archives arrange their records and terminology


2.00 – 3.00    Advanced features of TNA’s catalogue, Discovery

3.15 – 4.00    Datasets, digitisation, geo-mapping

4.00 – 5.00    Discussion, questions and close



Tuesday 9 April – Archival Collections beyond TNA & some basic skills

10.00-12.00   Other electronic catalogues hosted by TNA

12.00-1.00     Local Record Office catalogues & holdings


2.00-3.00       TNA’s paper finding aids (first floor)

3.30-4.15       British History Online, Bibliographies, other electronic resources

4.15-5.00       Handling documents: a refresher



Wednesday 10 April – Structures and Records/Themes

10.00-10.45   Overview of Modern Government (18th and 19th centuries)

11.00-12.30   Overview of Modern Government (1900 to 1945)


Afternoon      Theme 1 - The Law: Criminal Justice. Records (local and central) relating to the criminal justice system


Thursday 11 April – Themes

Morning         Theme 2 - The Law: Civil Litigation. Records (central) of the Court of Chancery, before 1875; with a more general overview of the variety of other courts used for civil litigation


Afternoon      Theme 3 - Education: Records (local) relating to the various types of educational establishments (private, dame and ragged schools and universities) from around 1780 to 1960; central records from 1833 when annual grants were first made available to support first elementary and then secondary education.


Friday 12 April – Themes

Morning         Poverty: Records (local) relating to the Old Poor Law (vestry minutes, overseers accounts, quarter and petty sessions records). For the New Poor Law (from 1834) the sessions will span from the local to centrally held collections.


Afternoon      Public Health Records relating to individual local attempts at public health through vestries, manors and improvement commissioners; from the mid-19th century, local and central records of the local and general boards of health; introduction of the NHS in 1945.