Cataloguing projects 2016-17

In general, we release new descriptions gradually so that information becomes searchable as soon as possible. To restrict catalogue searches to a particular project, type its series reference (for example, HO 250) into the search box on the Discovery home page or click on the links below. Once you have found something interesting, you can visit The National Archives in person, or order a copy of the record.

Cataloguing projects finished in the financial year ending March 2017

FEC 1: Forfeited Estates Commission: Papers, 1552-1770

This collection of deeds and other documents produced before the Commissioners of the Forfeited Estates and relating to the estates of persons attainted during the rebellion of 1715 has now been dated throughout the whole series.

SP 35, 36 and 55: Jacobite Anniversaries, 1715-1745

As part of efforts to improve access to our eighteenth century collections, particularly in terms of our coverage of the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, the Early Modern Team have recently completed a large cataloguing project to enhance our descriptions of parts of the State Paper series. With the help of a committed team of volunteers we have catalogued:

  • 31 volumes of SP 35: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, George I, 1714-1727 – totalling some 3167 items SP 35 (SP 35/1-24; SP 35/35-39; SP 35/71-73);
  • 33 volumes of SP 36: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, George II, 1718-1760 – totalling some 3401 items (SP 36/73-105); and
  • all 13 volumes of SP 55: Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland: Letter Books, 1713-1746 – totalling some 1799 items (SP 55/1-13).

These new descriptions (overall, 8367 items) will give both historians and family history researchers far greater access to this important collection, many of which have only been accessible by manuscript lists in the Map and Large Document Reading Room until now.

HO 334: Home Office: Immigration and Nationality Department: Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage, 1870-1987

The final stage of the British Nationality Project is now complete, during which 1,000,320 items have been created for series HO 334, broken down by certificate type issued from 1949 to 1987. The series now contains 1,237,852 items relating to nationality records issued between 1870 and 1987, making it much easier for users to access records by name for subjects born more than 100 years ago or by certificate number. With the exception of 10 pieces, the entire series HO 334 has now been itemised.

WO 374: WW1 Officers personal files

The Friends of the National Archives have now catalogued the last of the WO 374 First World War officers’ files. They have expanded the descriptions of 77,833 files to include the full names and regiments of the men and women in the series. The addition of information to the description means it is now easier for readers and staff to separate similar entries and order files with greater confidence of finding the correct officer. Famous names include Ralph Vaughan-Williams and Mark Sykes.

ADM 73/154-389: Greenwich Hospital School application, 1728-1870

These underused application papers were previously produced in loose bundles in an unsorted arrangement by the box, archived and referenced by the initial letters of a range of surnames. Following the completion of this sorting and cataloguing project the catalogue descriptions to over 28,000 applications can now be searched in several ways including, for example, by name of applicant, parents’ names, and date of entry to the school. This project has established that there are application papers of not just children of fathers who served in the Royal Navy, but also Royal Marines, Merchant Navy and Coastguard personnel, and that the papers consist of both successful and unsuccessful applications often full of supporting paperwork such as service records and baptismal and marriage certificates.

C 9 Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings before 1714, Reynardson

C 9 had been in the online catalogue in an alphabetical sequence, with short titles and dates only. We have added more detailed descriptions for the first 44 pieces (6782 entries, 13% of the total 52655 entries) from the single volume Map Room Finding Aid, giving full name of the first named plaintiff and one or more full names for the defendants, sometimes noting that there are others in the case. These entries also give place and/or subject matter and we have added a plaintiff coding for some cases. We have added the document type to all the entries from OBS 1, along with some forenames for plaintiffs where it is given. Also 167 new pieces have been added where these had previously been omitted, and there have been some corrections made to dates and the entries sorted and reorganised into a numeric sequence.

T 1 Treasury: Treasury Board Papers and In-Letters, 1909

216 pieces (T 1/10962-11777) of Treasury correspondence for the year 1909 have been catalogued from an unpublished finding aid using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The catalogue entries were then checked for errors and entries were added for items which were not included in the finding aid. There are now 3070 items of T 1 correspondence for the year 1909 which are keyword searchable. This means that the series is now fully keyword searchable from 1909-1946.

BT 165: Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Ships’ Official Logs, 1914-1919

Catalogue entries have been enhanced as part of a project supported by volunteers from the London Family History Library. The collection is now searchable by ship name as well as ship official number and date of voyage. Family historians will find the logs useful as they are contain entries of births, marriages or deaths at sea, and researchers of World War 1 will also find the collection useful as all surviving logs for the period between 1914 and 1919 have been preserved and form part of the series. This project has added information to Discovery for over 40,000 logs.

C 15 Court of Chancery: Clerks of Records and Writs Office: Pleadings 1853-1860

The C 15 project was undertaken to provide enhanced descriptions. The records in this series consist of pleadings in equity cases in the Court of Chancery from 1853 to 1860 and cover different types of cases but particularly disputes over wills, trusts and administration of estates. There are 801 pieces (bundles, as stated at series level) and 21,248 items.

Formerly these Court of Chancery cases were briefly described (e.g. Smith v Jones). Using the content of the C 32 Cause Books, the forename and surname of each named plaintiff and defendant for every case has been included. Additionally, where applicable the name, profession and place of residence of the deceased regarding disputes over estates is given. Also the county or counties of the solicitor or solicitors involved in each case have been added, which helps when searching for a common name. Where names of parties have been removed and added in a case, this has been included. Coding (SFP) for female plaintiffs acting alone have been included.

RAIL 236: Great Northern Railway Company: Records, 1844-1966

RAIL 236 comprises the company records of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). As such it is a diverse collection of board and committee papers, agreements, surveys, specifications, contracts and plans of works, locomotive and rolling stock records, photographs, staff records, accountant’s records, civil engineers’ records. The series also includes a run of 150 boxes containing ‘Reports to Board’ which were not described specifically in Discovery, and this cataloguing project sought to specify exactly what each report concerned.

Each of the 150 pieces [boxes] contains as many as 23 different reports to the GNR board on various subjects including viaducts, emergency procedures, dining cars, catering, hotels, coal, telecommunications, rolling stock, lines and stations, etc.. All of these reports have now been catalogued, adding around 1500 new item descriptions to Discovery, making their titles fully searchable. The work was completed much sooner than expected thanks to the assistance of a volunteer from the Great Northern Railway Society, who was able to help with specific report titles. These reports will help to throw light, not only on the growth of the Great Northern Railway, but on the evolution of the railways across Britain as a whole, since they include innovative developments and trials which helped to inform the progress of the industry in the UK.

C 8: Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings before 1714, Mitford

C 8 had been in the catalogue in an alpha sequence and there were no descriptions or dates. Using volunteers we have added detailed document descriptions and dates from the 14 volume Map Room Finding Aid. There are now 78171 descriptions, giving full name of the first named plaintiff and one or more full names for the defendants, sometimes noting that there are others in the case. These entries also give place and/or subject matter and we have added a plaintiff coding for some cases. We have added the document type to all the entries from OBS 1, created 133 new descriptions that had previously been missed from the catalogue and the entries have been sorted and reorganised into a numeric sequence.

E 179 Hearth Tax Exemption: Oxfordshire and Herefordshire

Hearth Tax Exemption certificates are now available for the counties of Oxfordshire (E 179/164/536) and Herefordshire (E 179/119/509), thereby completing the second and third counties in this four county project phase.

In addition to the above completed projects, the Catalogue and Taxonomy team have worked to reduce the backlog of unaccessioned records, improve ‘bad’ data within our catalogue descriptions, and participated in a number of enhancement projects in response to user feedback:

Historic backlog of unaccessioned records: 2,277 brevia files of the Court of Common Pleas were sorted, catalogued and made available to the public. These have been added to series CP 52 and cover the period 1603 to 1688.

Catalogue descriptions for 1,496 public record films held by the British Film Institute on The National Archives’ behalf were added to Discovery as series INF 34.

The State of the Catalogue programme monitors the amount of ‘bad data’ within our catalogue and tackles significant pockets of it proactively and in bulk. Bad data is defined as non-unique references, blank dates and blank scope and content descriptions. During 2016-2017 these decreased by 30%, from 1,173,874 instances of bad data at the start of the year to 818,249 at its end.

Selected highlights of catalogue improvement projects in response to user feedback:

Countryside Commission: Visual Resources Unit: 35 mm Colour Slides and Photographs in COU 11 (1971-1992)

493 new item level descriptions were produced from original contents lists held with the slides, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.

Foreign Office: Political and Other Departments: General Correspondence before 1906, various series

6,687 descriptions across 19 series were improved by moving text and tiding up anomalies, such as abbreviations and text in the date field. The series improved are: FO 7 (1375 pieces), FO 10 (463 pieces), FO 13 (323 pieces), FO 15 (175 pieces), FO 16 (366 pieces), FO 23 (107 pieces), FO 37 (885 pieces), FO 45 (923 pieces), FO 46 (684 pieces), FO 47 (39 pieces), FO 48 (87 pieces), FO 50 (112 pieces), FO 60 (140 pieces), FO 56 (37 pieces), FO 59 (64 pieces), FO 51 (282 pieces) FO 58 (347 pieces), FO 69 (277 pieces), FO 109 (1 piece).

Foreign Office: China: General Correspondence in FO 682 (1861-1939)

2,278 pieces and items were enhanced to provide language information (Chinese) and improve findability with cross-references and restrictions on use information.

Foreign Office: Kwangtung Provincial Archives; Documents of the Chinese Administration in FO 931(1765-1857)

2,016 pieces and items enhanced to provide language information (Chinese), improve general descriptions, date undated entries and reference non-unique references.

Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Granville Papers in PRO 30/29 (1604-1909)

The date field for 4,997 items in this series erroneously included place name information alongside the dates of the documents. This information was moved to the end of the descriptions to enable search for those place names.