Screenshot of The Olympic Record website

16 May 2012

Hundreds of historic documents and images relating to the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been made available online by The National Archives for the first time.

From the 19th to the 21st century

Our new site The Olympic Record includes a timeline feature which enables visitors to track back through time and browse material from every summer Olympics, from Athens in 1896 to Beijing in 2008.

Sarah Hutton, records specialist at The National Archives, said: 'These files show the impact the Olympic movement has had on our history in the 116 years since the modern Games were revived. From a brief dispatch in 1896 to the huge online presence today, the records reflect the growth of the Games throughout the 20th century as well as its remarkable survival through two world wars, political turmoil and boycotts.'

Listen to Sarah Hutton's podcast for more on the Olympic records.

Record highlights

Highlights from over 180 online records include:

  • records from the London Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948, including arrangements for the first marathon at the now-standard distance of 26.22 miles and accommodation and rations for athletes in the aftermath of the Second World War 
  • Foreign Office discussions over Britain's participation in the controversial Nazi-run Berlin Olympics in 1936
  • papers relating to the Greater London Council's plan to host the Olympics in London's Docklands in 1984 and 1988 and Manchester's failed bid for the Games in 2000
  • archived web pages in the UK Government Web Archive from Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012

The Record 2012

The site also provides a gateway to the hundreds of different sporting and cultural activities happening across the country this Olympic summer, from celebrations at national and regional venues to local school and community projects.

The National Archives has taken the lead in working with central and local government as well as sporting, cultural, media and heritage organisations to ensure records relating to London 2012 are preserved for future generations. This will be the prelude to The National Archives taking and making available vast collections of digital records in the future.

Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives, said: 'The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games represent a key moment in our nation's history, when London becomes the first city in the world to host the Games on three occasions. In addition to making historic material from our collection freely available online, The National Archives is helping other organisations to preserve and make accessible their Olympic records as a permanent legacy of this extraordinary event.'

Explore The Olympic Record at nationalarchives.gov.uk/olympics. You can then read our blog to put your Olympic knowledge to the test.