Cataloguing projects 2012/13

In general, we release new descriptions gradually so that information becomes searchable as soon as possible. To restrict catalogue searches to a particular project, type its series reference (for example, HO 47) into the search box on the Discovery home page. Once you have found something interesting, you can visit The National Archives in person, or order a copy of the record.

Cataloguing projects finished in the financial year up to March 2013

AIR 79: Air Ministry: Air Member for Personnel and predecessors: Airmen’s Records (1918-1928)

This project involving the cataloguing of the 2,807 pieces within the series is now complete and has been uploaded, enabling access to over 329,000 items (service records of airmen of the RAF who served during the First World War), to be searched by name and service number through Discovery.

OS 26: Ordnance Survey Boundary Remark Books (1850-1892)

The 12,873 pieces in the series have been enhanced with more accurate descriptions and the addition of National Grid References to the metadata to enable possible geo-referencing. The project has also seen the removal of 60,000 unreferenced items with often misleading and defective descriptions.

ADM 1: Captains’ letters

The cataloguing of various pieces in this series within the range ADM 1/1448 to 2343 has been improved by adding detail (names of captains, former references) at item level using information from supplementary finding aids. This has increased ease of access to the series by allowing name searches on the online catalogue and reducing dependency on complex ADM 12 indexes and digests.

IR 23 (Wales): Land Tax Redemption Office Quotas and Assessments

Following on from the successful completion of a previous project of the English counties in IR 23/1-110 (Land Tax Assessments, 1798), the project has been extended to cover IR 123/111-121 (11 pieces). The pieces have been re-catalogued at item level to list the parishes and townships for Welsh counties.

IR 30: Tithe Commission and Successors: Tithe Maps, 1775-1936

These tithe maps were drawn to act as a graphic index to the tithe apportionments in IR 29. It was previously difficult to find document references for these popular maps in the online catalogue, and descriptions were skeletal. A major project in 2011-2012 provided full searchable online descriptions for the 11,830 tithe maps. The National Archives gratefully acknowledges permission for use of data from Professor Roger Kain’s and Dr Richard Oliver’s Exeter University research on the tithe surveys in the 1990s. After conversion in Systems Development, and editorial work by Advice and Records Knowledge staff, information is now given for individual maps on their data, mapmaker, scale, and types of landscape feature shown; to have this information in electronic form will be a boon to researchers of Victorian rural, urban and industrial landscapes. Details of about 1,000 later altered apportionment maps have also been added. New series level information explains the purpose of these maps, and specialist terms such as ‘first class’ and altered apportionment and corn rent maps. The tithe map descriptions have been geo-referenced, and the new descriptions for IR 30 are one of the initial series included in Collections on a Map, the new prototype clickable map interface designed to provide map-based access to descriptions and some images of records.

FO for 1906 (FO 367-372)

New cataloguing at item level has been carried out on 70 pieces in FO 368, 54 volumes of FO 369 and 40 volumes of FO 372 for 1906. (FO 367 has been done as part of an original FO 1906 project and FO 370 already has basic catalogue descriptions).

FO Pre-1906: Correspondence Pilots (FO 1-93)

Country codes have been added to the catalogue and around 2,000 catalogue descriptions have been improved in FO 27 and FO 78. No further work is planned on pre-1906 FO series as staff time and document production costs are felt to be too high relative to the improvements made in the catalogue.

T 77: East Florida Claims Commission: Papers and Reports, c1763-1789

Within this series the descriptions for T 77/1-21 have been enhanced by utilising a list supplied by an external specialist researcher. This project helps make key documents available to the public relating to the history of early post-independence America. These pieces relate to numbered ‘loyalist claims’ for loss of land. The enhancements have improved the accessibility of name-rich but previously underused records of great interest to historians, academics and family historians, including from an American family history perspective.

AIR 29 Air Ministry and Ministry of Defence: Operations Record Books, Miscellaneous Units (pieces covering years 1939 to 1945)

The project involved re-listing the pre-1946 part of the series (pieces 1 to 1212). RAF units normally compiled a narrative record of their monthly activities using ‘Form 540’. AIR 29 contains the records of a wide variety of ‘miscellaneous units’ including training schools, marine craft units and many others, both in the UK and overseas. While they mainly record normal operations they can also be a useful source of day-to-day anecdotes, photographs and pamphlets. There are even Christmas and music programmes in some of the documents.

The original descriptions were often limited to numerals and abbreviations, most of which are unfamiliar to the average researcher and difficult to identify. The unit abbreviations were retained as they often appear on airmen’s service records from this period. Place-name descriptions were also improved so that researchers can use the records even if they do not know which units were in which locations. The lessons of this project include the importance of consistency across hundreds of piece descriptions and the value of being able to use a series in more than one way. Some anomalies were also discovered, such as inaccurate descriptions and unlisted material.

BT 43 and BT 44:
BT 43: Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Office and predecessor: Ornamental Design Act 1842: Representations
BT 44: Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Office and predecessor: Ornamental Design Act 1842: Registers

The Board of Trade Representations and Registers of Designs, often referred to as the ‘BT Design Register’, is a collection of registered designs, international in its scope. The ‘BT Design Register’ constitutes a fascinating set of written and material records. This collection is the result of a copyright registration scheme, and The National Archives has the records for 1839 to 1991. These records contain registered designs for metal, wood, glass, earthenware, wallpaper and textiles (including carpets, shawls, yarn, lace and printed fabrics). It includes the names and addresses of proprietors in the UK, the British Empire, the Commonwealth, mainland Europe and North America. The representations (designs) take many forms, including drawings, tracings, photographs, samples of cloth, and even complete artefacts (such as straw bonnets and leather gloves). It is made up of over 11,000 volumes and contains nearly 3 million designs. One aim of the project was to make it easier to link the written records in the BT 44 registers of proprietors, with the corresponding representations in BT 43. To achieve this, the registers have been transcribed and the data used to create catalogue entries for the representations in BT 43, which are now searchable online. Each BT 43 entry tells you which register the description was taken from. This huge task has contributed to this year’s record-breaking number of online releases: the biggest tranche comes from this project (BT 43 has over 406,000 items; BT 44 over 335,000 items). Online searching of the BT Design record for the period 1842-1884 is now much easier.

The National Archives would like to extend many thanks to the Arts & Humanities Research Council, whose funding allowed the project to go ahead.

WO 95 War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries

In preparation for a broader transcription and digitisation project, unreferenced items throughout WO 95 were referenced with actual reference numbers to assist identification of the specific war diaries. The digitisation of 2,097 pieces of WO 95 has lead to over 1,000 (specific to unit) alterations to the series catalogue. The new catalogue entries enable users to identify very specific items within the series rather than a single box which may contain a many as 11 separate diaries.

CO 96: Gold Coast, Original Correspondence (for 1900)

One crucial year in the history of the Gold Coast from CO 96 has been catalogued in detail by volunteers with an interest in the area. Volumes from 1,900 covering the pinnacle of ‘The War of the Golden Stool’ can now be searched by geographic or individual name of both Colonial staff and Gold Coast citizens recorded in the files. The cataloguing also provides a summary of events as they progressed through the year and highlights the wealth of information contained within CO 96 to encourage further research within the series.

B3: Bankruptcy files, 1753-1854

Descriptions of over 5,800 bankruptcy files from 1753 to 1854 have been extended to provide additional information. For instance, replacing a brief description of ‘Smith’, there are now more detailed descriptions such as ‘In the matter of William Herbert Smith late of Cheapside, London but now of Kennington, Surrey, calico printer and warehouseman (dealer and chapman), bankrupt.’

CP 5: Articles of clerkship 1713-1837

Over 12,000 articles of clerkship (for the training of lawyers by other lawyers), dating between 1713 and 1837, are now searchable by the name the trainee and the trainer: you can follow people as they begin their careers themselves, and then take on clerks to train.

Enhancements to WO 25 and WO 76

We have scanned and transcribed data from the nominal card index to Army Officers’ on open access in the microfilm area of the reading rooms, and added it to Discovery, our catalogue. We have done this to WO 76 and  WO 25. In total this has resulted in the creation of 42,000 item descriptions allowing users to search by name of Officer. When we investigated further, we realised that the card index was by no means comprehensive and contained quite a number of errors. While we have endeavoured to exclude those with errors, some may remain, so we have put up a health warning in the series note fields in the catalogue to manage expectations.