Who the Friends are and what they do

The Friends of The National Archives is a voluntary organisation dedicated to supporting our role in preserving and providing access to the nation’s records.

Established in 1988, The Friends of The National Archives is a registered charity with over 1,000 members. Members hold annual elections to a council that manages the Friends’ activities.

The Friends aim to:

  • promote and assist the work of The National Archives through fundraising and practical support
  • educate the public in the knowledge of public and other records

The organisation provides vital help to The National Archives with many projects, enabling records of all kinds and classes to be conserved, preserved, catalogued, calendarised, indexed, made accessible and studied. It does this through providing grants to support projects, as well as getting involved in volunteering.

The Friends have part-funded conferences and seminars at The National Archives and offered financial support to staff travelling to represent The National Archives at external conferences and events.

They also organise and host events at The National Archives, and in conjunction with other bodies such as the Friends of the Imperial War Museum and London Historians.

The Friends’ magazine is published three times a year and includes information on events, news, and a range of interesting articles based upon the records held at The National Archives and elsewhere.

Volunteering at The National Archives

Many Friends are volunteers, traditionally working on cataloguing projects with The National Archives’ records specialists.

In 2011, Friends volunteers completed a lengthy cataloguing project, which began in 1992, to index British Army Other Ranks Discharge Documents up to 1854. These documents were held in classes WO 97 (for the Chelsea Establishment), WO 119 (for the Irish Kilmainham Establishment) and WO 121 (pension correspondence), and resulted in the addition of more than 20,000 soldiers’ records to our catalogue.

In 2013 the volunteers finished another military project, to index various sections of WO 69, the records of the Royal Artillery. They are currently focussed on a naval project, to make accessible and improve our understanding of Navy Board miscellaneous correspondence for 1673 to 1832 held by The National Archives in the record series ADM 106.

Read more about volunteering at The National Archives.