National Archives - Kew Tips?

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by von Poop, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I haven't done this, but I have always assumed from DISCOVERY that a series is all of the files with the same initial code, before the slash.

    WO 215/432 and WO215/531 are in the WO 215 series.

    Certainly, the full references are catalogued as Sub-Series, so that would be consistent.

    Please somebody correct me if I've got the wrong end of the stick.

    I've just found one document that cites the following:

    If you wish to research several documents from the same catalogue series, for example from FO 371
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2022
    MongoUK likes this.
  2. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    That's indeed correct. The letters are the department code, e.g. FO - Foreign Office, WO - War Office, etc.

    The first number group with the letter group is the series: e.g. WO 171

    The next number group is the piece number: WO 171/123 - an individual distinct document, usually used for ordering purposes.

    There can be additional number groups referred to as an 'item': e.g. FO 371/12345/54321
    Items can be inconsistent as to whether it is the actual reference number used to order the item or not. Sometimes the piece number is used, other times the full item number is required. But basically an item is a sub-part of a larger document or file that has been catalogued in its own right. It could be something like an individual escape and evasion report amongst a volume or it could a very large document that has been split into two parts.

    4jonboy, CL1, timuk and 2 others like this.
  3. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    There are also some file references ending in /1 or /2. These could be closed extracts - containing material redacted from the parent file. For example AIR 81/1791/1 contains information redacted from AIR 81/1791. Though the parent file would be orderable, an extract would require an FOI request to be made in order to have it assessed for opening.
    CL1 likes this.
  4. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member


    Just spotted an error in my timings - the last order is now at 3pm. I got caught out by that last time as they didn't announce it like they used to.

  5. MongoUK

    MongoUK Junior Member

    Is their website not up to date, Gary?

    Currently shows ordering to 1530 on Mon, Weds and Fri and 1600 for Tues and Thurs?

    Am going on Thursday next week, so would be good to plan :)

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