HOW TO: TNA ONLINE
How The National Archives’ Discovery catalogue can help your research
Let’s be honest, the Discovery website ( discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk) is a brilliant guide to what can be found at Kew, but it is an absolute beast to get your head around. Just when you thought you had it sussed, The National Archives (TNA) has made major changes.
Now included are several major datasets for records that are not at Kew. Access to Archives (A2A) boasts detailed lists of records held at 400 archives across England and the National Register of Archives (NRA) has descriptions of collections held at archives across England and Wales.
However, the data does not include everything at other archives – far from it. Even so, is very useful to be able to check across a variety of archives with just a few mouse clicks. And there’s ARCHON, which has details of almost every archive, great and small, found in the UK. Scroll down Discovery’s search page until you see the ‘Find Your Archive’ box.
How you search TNA’s own holdings has also been tweaked. In particular, it is now easier to find downloadable documents.
There are now just two ways to find exactly what you want: either type a search term into the main search box or click on ‘Advance Search’. Both will take you to other screens with various filters allowing you to quickly narrow your search.
However, avoid the ‘Browse’ option, which is tricky to use. Discovery’s designers have tried to make the catalogue as simple to use as possible. It’s not perfect, but with a bit of patience you will soon be using it like a pro.
Discovery holds more than 32 million descriptions of records held by TNA and more than 2,500 archives across the country.
Over nine million records are available for download.