National Archives - Kew Tips?

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

  1. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

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  2. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Looking through old Kew User Forum minutes on the UK Gov Web Archive I came across this explanation as to why the MOD used 116 years' of retention of records rather than 100 years.

    "3.5 Q. (Item 3.13 11/14) It is interesting that some MoD service records have been released for individuals born 100 years ago, whereas some are retained for 116 years from date of birth.

    A. The reason for this is because of the way the records were created and managed. Some parts of the Armed Forces kept records by date of birth, but others by date of recruitment or service number. The records were created in different ways and therefore need to be handled differently."


    I also read that the MOD service records are so vast they amount to 20% of the total Kew Archives to date.

    Kew have been talking about the MOD service records since at least 2008......

    { Later Edit at about 1938 22 September 2022}

    Extract from minutes of User Forum held on 15 October 2009:

    "5.3 Q. Last year the MOD ran a consultation exercise on the Transfer of Historic Service Records to The National Archives. Since then we have heard very little news on this subject. Can we have an update?
    A. We are still in discussions regarding the processes and format in which these records will be taken in, and are not currently in a position to give an exact timescale. However we will try to arrange for this to be covered in more detail at the next meeting."

    Full minutes of the October 2009 meeting are here.


    { Even later Edit: add links to November 2009 User Forum Minutes and text }

    "5. Transfer of Post World War Service Records from the Ministry of Defence (MoD)- Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing
    5.1 The MoD undertook a public consultation about the transfer of historical service personnel records to The National Archives between July and September 2008. Following this consultation it has been decided to go ahead with the plans to transfer as outlined in the consultation proposals (97% of those who responded to the consultation were in favour of early transfer).
    Accessioning these records physically would be very problematic. In total, they would occupy 33.7 Kilometres worth of shelving.
    5.2 It has been agreed that the Second World War Home Guard records will be the first tranche to be transferred as they are both the most popular and relatively simple to manage as a test case: they consist of a single sheet per soldier.
    5.3 The timing of the transfer of these records is contingent on finding a suitable commercial partner to scan and index them first to make them available online; we are consulting at the moment to find a suitable partner and a number of partners have already shown an interest.
    5.4 This process will involve the creation of a database including an age field – this is vital as under Data Protection the individual records can not be opened until 100 years after the birth of the soldier. With this in place, individual soldiers records can be made available ‘automatically’ as the 100 year mark is reached.
    5.5 Q. Will it be possible to tell if a record for an individual exists, but is currently closed?
    A. This is one of the requirements in the tender.
    5.6 Q. In the past we would hear from Howard Davies in regard to the transfer of WW2 service records, is he still the Client Manager for the MOD?
    A. No, he has moved on, Andrew Dyer is now the Information Management Consultant (formerly Client Manager) who is responsible for liaising with the MOD. The reason that Caroline Kimbell was invited on this occasion is that this project involves digitisation prior to transfer. Therefore the licensing process is fundamental from the outset of the project. The Commercial Delivery and Licensing department work closely with Information Management and Practice (formerly Records Management).
    5.7 Q. Would it be possible to get a list of Information Management Consultants and the departments they are responsible for?
    A. We will look into that and see if that’s possible.
    (post meeting note: We have considered this and discussed with colleagues in Information Management and Practice (IMP). As a government facing department, it would be difficult for IMP to take on the responsibility for liaising directly with the public as they do not have the required resources in place. In addition, the Information Management Consultants spend a lot of time out of the office, liaising with government departments. Many of the queries relating to records of government departments also need t be directed to the department, rather than internally to IMP. It has been agreed that the Advice and Records Management Department should manage the interface, directing any enquiries they can’t deal with themselves to the relevant Information Management Consultants in IMP, and responding on their behalf).
    5.8 Q. Is there a high proportion of service records from the Second World War that do not survive?
    A. As far as we know, there has been no individual incident that has lead to large portions of the records being lost or damaged (as with the bombing raids which destroyed a large portion of the First World War service records). However, as the records are still with the MoD, this is a query that would need to be directed to them as we do not have statistics on survival rates of the records.
    5.9 Q. You mentioned that the records will be digitised with a commercial partner, would access to those digital documents be freely available to view on site at The National Archives (TNA) and regional hubs around the country?
    A. They will be freely available to view on site at TNA. It is possible that they may also be made available at regional hubs but this has not yet been decided.
    5.10 Q. Have you considered the sensitive nature of some of the Home Guard records which indicate where an individual has had their ‘card marked’ and / or has not been taken up for service for various reasons?
    5.11 A. The records have been ‘dip sampled’ and given a clean bill of health by the MoD. However, we will feed this point back for clarification.
    5.12 Q. Why has The National Archives not thought about digitising the records in-house instead of using a commercial partner?
    A. We do not have the staff, resources or funds to commit to such a large operation. The revenue generated from these commercial partners gets put back into public services."


    The 2022 version of 100 years is 115 years....fancy that !

    Still, if you do next to nothing for 14 years, and there is no 1931 census to digitise, it all makes perfect sense.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2022
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  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    News from Kew on FCO 141:
    Access reinstated for FCO 141 Record Series - The National Archives

    Wednesday 21 September 2022
    We are pleased to announce that access to the record series, FCO 141 – Foreign and Commonwealth Office and predecessors: Records of Former Colonial Administrations: Migrated Archives, has now been restored.

    " Records from the FCO 141 record series will be viewed in a separate room within the main Reading Room and must be ordered in advance to ensure you are allocated a seat on the day you wish to visit.
    We will provide disposable Nitrile Gloves for you to wear while using the FCO 141 documents.
    If you are using mobile phones, cameras, laptops and any other objects while viewing the documents, they must be wiped down with the materials provided prior to leaving the Reading Room or after handling the documents.
    Please refrain from touching your face, eyes or mouth whilst viewing the records, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap once finished.
    All other Reading Room rules should be followed."

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