This page provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Discovery, our new catalogue. If you have a question that we haven't answered, please use our online contact form. You can also go to our Discovery updates page to see the latest features and fixes.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is The National Archives' catalogue, providing a way to explore our collections and - where available - download digital copies of our records. Discovery has been designed to host, search and display the many different databases and datasets held at The National Archives. By doing so it provides a more robust and integrated system to manage current and future data and storage needs, along with a consistent and seamless user experience.  

How did you develop Discovery?

Early versions of Discovery (and elements of its functionality) have been released on our Labs website, where users can test and give feedback on new online services as they are developed. We've also held user testing sessions, and have continuously sought user feedback throughout the development process. We have worked with on site user groups, including the user forum and user advisory group, to gather feedback and cascade information on developments to regular users.

Our blog post describes in detail how we approached the design and development of Discovery, and how we used customer research to help us in this process.

We would like our users to continue to provide feedback on Discovery, particularly as we will continue to develop it and add new functionality.

Is the data in Discovery new/correct?

Discovery provides a new way to search and browse the catalogue data that we have collated over many years. We will continue to catalogue and add more detailed descriptions to our collection, whether for newly released files or for records that we want to open up for wider use, largely through a number of cataloguing projects using volunteers.

When we find incorrect or incomplete catalogue data, we flag and work through it but have limited internal resource, particularly as we have such a vast and varied collection. For this reason, we have added user-generated tagging into Discovery and a 'suggest a correction' feature, so that our users (who in some cases know the records better than us) can help us improve and expand our catalogue data.

Will you continue to develop Discovery?

We are continually developing Discovery, fixing technical bugs and adding new features on a regular basis. You can see what new features we've added and which issues we've fixed with each release by reading our Discovery updates.

We are currently working on incorporating archival resources - including the National Register of Archives, the ARCHON directory, Accessions to Repositories, Access to Archives, the Manorial Documents Register and the Hospital Records Database - into Discovery, so that we can improve the way users explore our collections and others relating to British history. These resources provide a window to many rich and vibrant collections relating to British history, including information about the location and nature of these records. Find out more about the development of this project in our blog post.

What should I do if I find an error or problem with Discovery?

For technical errors, use the Contact us form, detailing the fault and browser you are using. Please also include the URL of the relevant page to help us find and resolve the error quickly.

To provide general feedback on Discovery, please use the 'Send us feedback' button that can be found on the Discovery homepage.