Digitisation for Findmypast

FOI request reference: F0042945
Publication date: September 2015



Request and response:

  1. The start date when documents of WO 361 were first removed from public access for scanning and the finish date when the last document of WO 361 was returned to public access.2. Were documents removed in batches and if so the size of batches and on average how long retained, or where the three hundred and thirty-one files removed in one batch and returned individually or batches when each had finished the process.

In answering these questions please see attached statistics from our Document Services Department, which displays the date when documents were first removed from public access (the ‘first order’ date), and the ‘last scanned’ date, which represents the date when the scanning of a file was complete and was once again available for public ordering. The number of files given a ‘first order’ date can be said to constitute one batch.

  1. What was the financial agreement between Findmypast and the National Achieves to digitise 331 documents in the WI361 group?

The National Archives regularly identifies themed sets of historic records for licensing to the online genealogy sector through our Licensed Internet Associateships programme. Records relating to Prisoners of War (including WO 361) were scoped, selected, surveyed and cleared by our Data Protection Officer for the most recent Licensed Internet Associateship (“LiA”). LiA contracts require the licensee to cover all the costs of digitisation – conservation surveys and treatment of the records, their transfer to the scanning area, staff training and supervision, scanner operator salaries, provision and installation of equipment, image creation and quality assurance, transcription of key information from the resulting images (name, rank, event date, etc.) and the collation of indexes linked to the images online to allow the public to identify individuals’ records instantly. There is no payment to TNA for any of these functions, rather TNA benefits in kind from the licensee’s investment in the digitisation of original documents, which serves to protect the original documents from damage caused by handling, as well as introducing them to a wider audience.

Once collections are published online under an LiA agreement, the publisher (in this case, Findmypast) benefits from co-branding and direct links from TNA’s website, offering traffic, endorsement and authentication by official association with the Archives. All commercially published collections are available free of charge within the public reading rooms at Kew, and remotely 24/7 on pay-per-view and subscription terms. The temporary withdrawal of physical access to batches of documents during the digitisation process is therefore a short-term necessity to achieve the long-term aim of wider public access to our records. TNA receives royalty revenue from publishers only when the content is downloaded either on a pay-per-view basis or as part of a paid subscription. TNA has no core budget for mass-digitisation of documents, and without the investment and involvement of commercial publishers, less than 10% of the records currently available online would have been achieved.
Other than this LiA agreement, there were no other financial terms agreed with Findmypast.

Attachments: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/f0042945-wo361-requisition-statistics.xls