The National Archives' historical research priorities

Modern and contemporary

  • 19th century welfare policy with particular emphasis on public health, education, the poor law and the role of local government
  • Law and order in the 19th century with a focus on radicalism, unrest and the process of pardons
  • The history of design with emphasis on manufactured goods: 1839 -1964
  • Military medicine and well being in the 19th and early 20th centuries
  • The legacy of Empire including decolonisation
  • Cultures of administration and information management in British Government from 1800 -1970
  • The Thatcher revolution in government 1979-90

Early Modern

  • Developments in early modern science and technology
  • Early modern women, especially letter-writing conventions
  • Early modern drama, theatre and literature including censorship and the records of the Lord Chamberlain
  • Patterns of apprenticeship exploring occupations and distribution of trades on a national basis
  • Intelligence gathering and communications with particular reference to the Jacobite rebellions


  • Seals: their role in the administration and development of medieval and early modern government; their distribution, design and dating, and implications for literacy and access to documents and as marks of authentication
  • Common law records with a focus on legal processes and jurisdictions including inquests, special commissions, regional legal authority, and the relationship between justices and the king's prerogative power
  • The use of ancient deeds to reconstruct the landholding portfolios of individual landowners, medieval abbeys and urban corporations and to assess the changing ideas of right, title and claim.
  • The Medieval Jewish community including its commercial and financial role, its interaction with Christian groups, points of friction and evidence of violence leading to the expulsion of the Jewish community in 1290


  • Litigation with a focus on Equity type courts c1500 -1875; Chancery, Exchequer, Star Chamber, Requests, High Court of Admiralty

Maps and photos

  • The use of mapping and land tax records to determine the ownership of land and the distribution of land holdings in England and Wales, including Crown Estate
  • Place names in England and Wales, including Object Name Books
  • Sea level and coastal erosion research over time, using coastline and coastal surveys, including cartographic and photographic evidence