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The National Archives User Advisory Group

 

The National Archives has set up a new mechanism for consultation with users. To quote from the draft Terms of Reference, The new User Advisory Group (UAG) will:

 
"Provide an opportunity for users of The National Archives to get involved in the organisation" planning and decision making process at an early stage and a strategic level. Provide an opportunity for The National Archives to seek structured advice and feedback from our user communities on specific developments and decisions, via a formal closed group, which actively represents the diverse interests, concerns and agendas of our user communities. Provide balanced and holistic representation from the diverse sections of our user community and an opportunity for dialogue between representatives of these groups. Act as a two way communications channel between The National Archives and our user communities. Provide a voice, through representation, for users who may not be able to make use of the other engagement channels provided by The National Archives."
 
 
The following sections of the user community are being represented:
 
  • On site personal interest researchers
  • Independent (paid) researchers
  • Academic researchers
  • Researchers based primarily in the Map and Large Document reading room
  • Researchers interested in the diversity / inclusion / access agenda County / external archives
  • Genealogical / family history societies
  • Online users (initially represented by a member of TNA staff)
 
After making an expression of interest, I was invited to be one of the "On site personal interest researchers" representatives.

 

The inaugural meeting took place on June 22nd. The most interesting item on the agenda was discussion of a pilot digitisation of Home Guard records. This collection consists of 4.6 million pieces and because of its size cannot be accessioned as physical records. The pilot digitisation will be of County Durham records - approximately 85,000 records, about 2% of the whole. It is expected that the criteria used to allow searching the records once online will be:

 
  • Date of birth
  • Area or County (Durham for the pilot)
  • Place of birth
  • Address
 
This is one of the "Four Collections" of service records, whose transfer from the MoD to TNA was the subject of a public consultation in 2008.
The four collections are:
 
  • Approximately 4.5 million records of those that enlisted in the Home Guard during the Second World War.
  • Approximately 60,000 cards detailing ratings who enlisted in the Royal Navy from 1924 up to the outbreak of the Second World War.
  • Approximately 170,000 records for soldiers with dates of birth of 1895 or earlier who served beyond the end of the First World War.
  • Approximately 45,000 records of airmen who enlisted in the Royal Air Force up to 1928.
There was also some discussion of the Royal Navy ratings' record cards, since it is not clear if this collection includes the records of ratings serving prior to 1924, which were transferred to the card system in 1929.
 
 
The UAG will meet quarterly, the next meeting being on September 6th. I would be happy to have members' views on matters of their interest, which might be represented at the UAG, bearing in mind the extract from the draft terms of reference shown above.
 
 
Graham Woolgar
Dahlia Harrison,Jim Lees,
General Secretary, OMRSMembership Secretary, OMRS
PO Box 6195, Royal Leamington Spa, CV31 9JUPO Box 248, Snettisham,
Tel: 01926 312176King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 7TA
Email: generalsecretary@omrs.orgEmail: membershipsecretary@omrs.org