Archi've Discovered: Have you?

  Archi've Discovered: Have you? Archive sector in UK and Irelandlaunches its annual public awareness campaign, Explore Your Archive.


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  • Archives in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales holding a range of talks and events, and online and in-house exhibitions during the coming weeks and months to showcase their extensive collections.
  • Over 300 archives across the country will share amazing stories to allow the public to discover the facts, the places and people at the heart of our communities.
  • The campaign was launched formally in Liverpool yesterday (15 November) with an event led by Stephen McGann. It runs throughout the year.
  • A fascinating wealth of heritage and content to read, touch and explore. Family history. Local history, fashion, sport, railways, arts, food, and more.
  • Full programme of social media, daily Twitter hashtags and thunderclap.
  • Visit to find out more about your local archives, how you can participate and how to start your own research adventure.

Local, university, business, specialist and national archives throughout the UK and Ireland invite the public to explore and experience the wealth and variety of material held in their local and national repositories. 'Explore Your Archive' is the sector's annual campaign, developed jointly by The National Archives of the UK (TNA) and ARA, the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland).

The Campaign

Explore Your Archive ( highlights the inspiring role of archives and their role at the core of community life in these islands. The campaign launched in Ireland on 12 November and features an extensive programme of events in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. Explore launches in Wales today (16 November). A variety of free events at archives across Wales will be on offer from talks, film-showings, tours and trails to children's craft activities, story boxes, creative workshops and 3D modelling demonstrations. Exhibitions across Wales on a range of themes will also be on display ranging from textiles, travel and holidays to rugby, railways and tithe maps.

There is an extensive programme of events in major English and Scottish cities, too, from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Exeter, Birmingham, London, York, and Manchester. Do not forget the many small local and regional records offices and archives who are taking part, in the business sector (for example, John Lewis), the voluntary sector, community archives, churches and in collaborative projects with libraries and museums.

ARA's CEO, John Chambers, said:

"Archives inspire interest in – and preserve - our rich history. This year is the two-hundredth anniversary of the battle of Waterloo and the eight-hundredth anniversary of Magna Carta. We also remember the centenary of the second year of the First World War. But they are very relevant to our own times. Archives have also helped get to the truth about Hillsborough, historical child abuse and the Iraq war this year: they are therefore as important for ensuring accountability in our own times as much as for learning about the past ".

For more information, interview requests please contact Jon Elliott at ARA on 07587 635402 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to Editors

Explore Your Archive has been developed by The National Archives of the UK and The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) and is supported by The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), The National Archives of Ireland, National Records of Scotland, Scottish Council on Archives, and The Welsh Government - through its Museums Archives and Libraries division and The National Library of Wales.

Archives sector in the UK and Ireland

Archives hold the records and memories of individuals, communities, organisations and nations. They ensure accountability and good governance and make access to history possible. Archives look after and make accessible the records that hold the stories, facts, places and people at the heart of our communities. Archives underpin education, heritage, business and identity. There are an estimated 3,000 archives of all kinds in the UK and Ireland. The largest is The National Archives, which holds the records of the UK government. Some archives are tiny; they may hold the records of a community group or a family. In between are local authority record offices, university and public bodies, private, religious and corporate collections.

Family and community history has never been more popular and archives are a dynamic and growing sector which is open to the public as never before. Programmes such as 'Who Do You Think You Are?' have helped millions understand some of the work done every day by the professionals who work in archives.

Each day, more material from archives is made available online. Millions of people access material in this way. Particularly popular are censuses (the 1939 special census is the latest) and newspaper archives. A wealth of other material – music, art, design, photography, cartoons – is also available to view online. While a relatively small percentage of material held in archives in available online, we can all now do basic searching – particularly of births, marriage and deaths – online and then visit archives to delve more deeply.

Sector statistics

  • The archives sector is believed to have the highest satisfaction rate of any sector. In 2012 96% of visitors to archives rated the service as 'good' or 'very good' and 97% rated the helpfulness and friendliness of staff as 'good' or 'very good'*
  • There are around 24 million visits to The National Archives' website per year, 26% of them from outside the UK
  • 5% of all adults visited archives in England in 2012-2013**
  • 13% of all adults in England visited an archive or records website online in 2012-13**
  • Local authority archives receive around 750,000 remote enquiries each year and over 30 million visits to their websites (CIPFA 2010/11)

*CIPFA Survey of Visitors to UK Archives 2012
**Taking Part – DCMS September 2013

What does an archivist do?

Archivists and record managers use their skills to identify, collect, list, catalogue, preserve and make available, where appropriate, records of all kinds. Decisions on what records are to be kept – and in what format – are made every day. Some archivists work with historical records and artefacts; paleography (reading and dating historical manuscripts) is a core skill. Cataloguing and researching are vital skills, and most archives are open to researchers and/or the public, so providing customer service and referral advice is important. Many archivists work in outreach, exhibitions and publications. Current challenges for the sector include digital preservation and how to take in and make available 'born digital' material.

About The National Archives
The National Archives (TNA) is a government department and an executive agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), TNA looks after and makes available to the public a collection of historical records dating back over 1,000 years, including records as diverse as Domesday Book and MI5 files. Its 21st-century role is to collect and secure the future of the record, both digital and physical, to preserve it for generations to come, and to make it as accessible as possible. It does this by devising technological solutions to ensure the long-term survival of public records and working to widen access to the collection. TNA also advises on information management across government, publishes all UK legislation, manages Crown copyright and leads the archive sector. It works to promote and improve access to public sector information and its re-use. Since 2011, TNA has led the development of the archive sector in England.

Follow the TNA press office on Twitter @TNApressofficer and for general news @UkNatArchives. See for its press releases on Explore, including the 15 November launch of this year's campaign.

About the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland)

ARA is the leading membership body for archivists, records managers, archive conservators and all who care about archives in the UK and Ireland. It has more than 2,400 members.

ARA serves its members through a programme of training and development, publications, conferences, networking and communication. It advocates widely for the sector. It is proud to offer awards which celebrate the work of volunteers and the contribution made by community archives, as well as recognising individual excellence in the sector through a programme of annual awards.

For more, see