Tracing Your British and Irish Ancestor Using The National Archives
Audrey Collins

Each day there will be classroom sessions in the morning, followed by your own research in the Family History Library each afternoon. The sessions will strike a balance between classes on important sets of records in The National Archives, and practical sessions on developing the research skills to use them to best effect. This is an outline of the classroom sessions, although the order may vary.
  • The National Archives of where, exactly? The introductory session looks at the somewhat complicated geography of the British Isles, to help you understand which records you might expect to find at The National Archives, which ones will be held elsewhere, and why. 
  • An in-depth look at the website and its resources; research guides, tutorials, historical background information, and practical advice on using the records, whether in person or remotely. How to reference the records correctly.
  • Core records for genealogists - census, vital records and probate records in The National Archives. Most are digitised and widely available, but two major record sets are not, with limited online indexes. 
  • In-depth use of Discovery, our online catalogue, and the key to our collections; how the catalogue is structured, how to search and browse in it, perform simple and advanced searches, how to re-order and filter results. Then how to view the records you have identified, and/or obtain copies. 
  • Armed forces genealogy in The National Archives; service and other records of the army, navy, and other services. A few records date from the 1660s, but the great majority are from the mid-18thcentury or later. There are also records of some related non-military services; coastguard, customs and excise, dockyard employees and the merchant navy.
  • Online records - on our website and with commercial partners. Some of our digitised records are on The National Archives’ site, but many more are on commercial family history sites, or academic sites.  
  • Beyond England and Wales - records for the rest of the British Isles, including Ireland. Many records are UK-wide, and therefore contain information on Ireland, part of the UK until 1922. There are substantial collections of records on the British administration in Ireland.
  • Finding aids and indexes to The National Archives records in print and online. Most records are not digitised, or even catalogued in great detail. But there are still many finding aids and indexes that can help you, in libraries and online. 
  • Beyond England and Wales - the former Empire, and the wider world. As a former imperial power, and a major trading nation, people from all parts of the British Isles have travelled all over the world, and settled in other countries, whether temporarily or permanently. People from other countries also settled in Britain, and there are some records of immigration and naturalisation.
  • Records held elsewhere; using the website and Discovery to locate them, and combine them with records that you have found in The National Archives in the course of your research. Several formerly separate catalogues are now incorporated in Discovery; A2A (Access to Archives), Archon (Archive contact details) and the National Register of Archives.