1. Indexes to the National Register of Archives
The indexes to the NRA are indexes to the creators of records. It is possible to search for the records of corporate bodies or the papers of families and individuals, and for groups of letters from prominent individuals which are to be found in collections other than their own. It is not possible to use the indexes to search for single letters or papers relating to a certain theme, e.g. illiteracy.
Users can access the indexes to the National Register of Archives online. Guidelines on how to undertake searches are available on the search pages.
Users of the indexes should note that the majority of state school records have not been directly entered on to the indexes, being stored in a special series at The National Archives. If you are looking for the records of a particular state-funded school you should in the first instance contact staff at the local repository. Contact details can be found on ARCHON.
2. Accessions to repositories
Each year The National Archives contacts over 250 of the principal record repositories in the British Isles in order to discover which major and unusual accessions have been received. This information is added to the indexes to the National Register of Archives. It is also edited and used to produce thematic digests, including one relating to education records. The digests are made available through this website and distributed for publication in a number of learned journals and newsletters. The education digest is published in the History of Education Society Bulletin.
Further information on accessions is available on our website.
3. Relevant repositories
The following provides details of repositories and institutions that hold major collections relating to the history of education. The repositories have been divided into two groups: first, those holding collections that relate to various aspects of the history of education and second, those educational institutions of significance to the history of education, mainly schools, that hold their own records.
This list does not include universities and colleges of higher or further education which retain their own archives and do not collect other records relating to the history of education.
British and Foreign School Society Archive Centre, Brunel University Archives, The Old School House, 1 Hillingdon Road, Uxbridge, UB10 0AA
The Society was founded in 1808 by the supporters of Joseph Lancaster (1788-1838) and his system of non-conformist popular education. Collections include the records of the Society, secretaries' letters and papers, overseas correspondence, annual reports and records of the Society's schools and colleges. Major collections include correspondence of Joseph Lancaster and his contemporaries 1810-12. Detailed reports of the archive's holdings are given in Journal of Educational Administration and History (July 1980), History of Education (October 1981) and The Local Historian, xiv/4 (1984).
Children's Society Records and Archive Centre, Block A Floor 2, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clement's Road, London SE16 4DG
Founded in 1881 as the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society to contribute to the late nineteenth century child saving movement. It operated a large number of residential homes for children on a voluntary basis, and also under the auspices of the Industrial School Acts and the Poor Law. It holds the records of some, though not all of these schools, the Society's central records and case papers relating to thousands of individual children.
Church of England Record Centre, 15 Galleywall Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 3PB
It acts as a clearinghouse for information on all central records of the Church of England. It holds the records of the National Society, founded in 1811 by the Church of England to promote elementary education, and a large number of individual National Society schools.
Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies, University of Roehampton Archives and Special Collections, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5SZ
The Froebel Society was founded in 1874 to promote kindergarten education, the Education Institute followed in 1892. Holds records relating to the Society including material on child development and infant education.
Girls' Public Day School Trust, London University: Institute of Education, Newsam Library and Archives, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL
The Girls' Public Day School Trust was founded in 1872 as the Girls' Public Day School Company to provide junior day schools. Holdings include records of the Trust, including minutes of council and committees, financial and legal papers, correspondence, pupils admissions registers, inspectors' and headmistresses' reports.
Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL
The Institute has an active collecting policy covering the history of education of all kinds. Collections include records of the Association of Assistant Masters, National Union of Women Teachers and World Education Fellowship. See also Guide to the Institute of Education Archives (1997) and Special Collections and Archives of the Institute of Education Library (1991).
Leeds University Museum of the History of Education, Parkinson Court, Leeds LS2 9JT
Established in the 1950s, its main aims are the documentation of the history of education and the promotion of research and publication. Collections include children's exercise books (17th century onwards), trainee teachers' work and records of their progress, records of education societies and material concerning education in the former West Riding of Yorkshire. It also publishes the Journal of Education Administration and History.
Liverpool University: Special Collections and Archives, Sydney Jones Library, University of Liverpool, Chatham Street, Liverpool L7 7AY
The archive has an active collecting policy focusing on the papers of children's welfare organisations. Major collections include Barnardo's and the Fairbridge Society.
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Holds the records created or inherited by the Department of Education and Science and related bodies, relating to the administration and provision of education in England and Wales, from nursery to university level.
Also included are records relating to the administration of teachers' employment and conditions, science and art, libraries and museums, technical education, youth services, awards and scholarships, wartime educational services, educational buildings and architecture, liaison with international education bodies, finance, statistics and planning, legal matters, health and medical concerns, and inspections of educational establishments.
Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Western Manuscripts, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BG
In addition to the relevant archival collections in the Department of Western Manuscripts, which include the central records of the University of Oxford and papers of the Student Union and Graduate Union, the Bodleian holds the Opie Collection, a large and wide ranging collection of children's books. (For records of individual Oxford Colleges, contact the College librarians direct.
Warwick University Modern Records Centre, University Library, Coventry CV4 7AL
Collections include the 20th century records of the National Union of Students and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education.
Many educational institutions retain their own records. A preliminary letter should be sent to the appropriate officer at each, indicating the scope of proposed research and ascertaining the likelihood of access to the records being granted. The following are a few examples. Others can be found in the ARCHON Directory.
Bedford School Archive, Bedford School, de Parys Avenue, Bedford MK40 2TR
The school is a Tudor foundation with extensive archive material. Collections include administrative material concerning the school, its pupils and staff and papers and memorabilia of old boys.
Eton College, College Library, Eton College, Windsor SL4 6DW
Retains the records of the College dating from the 12th to 20th century.
Harrow School, 5 High Street, Harrow on the Hill, London HA1 3HP
Collection includes Headmaster's papers, masters' papers and school lists.
North London Collegiate School, Canons, Canons Drive, Edgware, London HA8 7RJ
Collection includes admissions register, governors' minutes, headmistresses' reports and school magazines.
Rugby School, Temple Reading Room, Rugby School, Barby Road, Rugby CV22 5DW
Retains deeds and papers relating to the school and its properties from the 16th century. Collection includes school records, registers, governing body papers, collections of boys' letters and so on.. The earliest date from 1670s but most from 1750. Major collections include Dr Thomas Arnold's papers.
Winchester College Archives, Winchester College, College Street, Winchester SO23 9NA
Retains records of the College to 20th century. A three volume catalogue of the muniments has been published.
4. Useful links
For advice about oral history and information as to existing oral history resources, you should first approach the Curator of Oral History, British Library, Sound Archive.
Access to Archives (A2A)
The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.
The Archives Hub provides a single point of access to descriptions of archives held in UK universities and colleges. At present these are primarily at collection-level, although where possible they are linked to complete catalogue descriptions.
AIM25 is a major project to provide electronic access to collection level descriptions of the archives of over fifty higher education institutions and learned societies within the greater London area.
The Aim of the Society is to further the study of the History of Education by providing opportunities for discussion among those engaged in its study and teaching. The History of Education Society Bulletin (twice yearly) usually carries a digest of major accessions to UK repositories, prepared by The National Archives, in its autumn edition. The Society also produces the quarterly academic journal History of Education and organises an annual conference.
The History of Education Project is housed in the The Miners' Hall, Red Hill, Durham City. It exists to further the knowledge of history among people of the region. It also offers opportunities for volunteers aged 16-60 plus to learn office skills and to share in some exciting work, including in-house publication. A new database is to be prepared of 5000 outdated history textbooks - the largest collection in the UK. These books are held at Durham University School of Education, but enquiries concerning them should be addressed to the History of Education Project at Miners' Hall.
The purpose of the Ragged School Museum is to make the unique history of the East End of London, and in particular of the Copperfield Road Ragged School, accessible to everyone. In a re-created classroom of the period, visitors can see how Victorian children were taught.
Scottish Archive Network (SCAN)
The project aims to revolutionise access to Scotland's archives by providing a single electronic catalogue to the holdings of more than 50 Scottish archives.
Contains one of the world's largest collections of children's toys, including dolls, teddy bears, toy soldiers and trains. The museum also traces the development of children's furniture and equipment, costumes and fashions, as well as housing the Renier Book Collection and the Book Trust Collection.
5. Further reading
Guides to Sources in the History of Education (History of Education Society)
M Argles, British Government Publications in Education during the Nineteenth Century (1971)
J Vaughan, Board of education Circulars: A Finding List and Index (1972)
J M McCarthy, An International List of Articles in the History of Education, Published in Non-Educational Serials, 1965-69 (1973)
D W Thomas, The History of Technical Education in London 1904-40 (1976)
S M Parkes, Irish Education in the British Parliamentary Papers 1801-1920 (1978)
V F Gilbert and C Holmes, Theses and Dissertations on the History of education Presented at British and Irish Universities between 1900-1976 (1976)
M Argles and J E Vaughan, British Government Publications Concerning Education during the Twentieth Century (1982)
J S Hurt, Education and the Working-Classes from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth Century (1985)
R Szreter, The History of Education in Non-Education Learned Journals 1939-1984 (1986)
A R Allan, University Bodies: a Survey of inter- and Supra- University Bodies and Their Records (Liverpool c1990). Includes an extensive bibliography of sources useful for the history of higher education.
M C Britton (ed), Improved Visibility: An International Bibliography on the Education of Women and Girls 1978-1989 (Librarians of Institutes and schools of education 1991).
J D Browne and G R N Smart, Colleges of Education: A Checklist of Archives (History of Education Society c1981).
C R Chapman, The Growth of British Education and its Records, (Dursley Lochin 1992).
J Craigie, A Bibliography of Scottish Education before 1872 (University of London Press 1970).
D Crook 'Net gains? The Internet as a research tool for historians of education' in D. Crook and R. Adlrich (eds) History of Education for the Twenty-first Century (London, Institute of Education) pp.36-49.
J C Davies, 'Documents relating to the History of Education,' in Durham Research Review, 2 (Sept 1951), pp 1-10.
History of Education Society, Archives and the Historian of Education (1975).
A Morton, Education and the State 1833-1966 (PRO 1997).
T A O'Donoghue, 'Sources for the Study of the History of the Secondary School Curriculum: A Survey of the Irish Scene, 1921-62,' in HES Bulletin, (Autumn 1990), pp. 46-51.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Guide to Educational Records (1993). Includes an appendix listing all state schools with surviving records held at PRONI.
Sources for Tracing School Teachers in the National Society Archives and Library (Church of England Record Centre, Guide no 5, nd.). Available from the Centre.
G Sutherland, 'A View of Education Records in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries', in Archives (Oct. 1981), pp. 79-85.
D H Thomas, Reformatory and Industrial Schools: An Annotated List of Schools Certified by the Home Office, 1854-1933 (1986).