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The very latest news from the world of genealogy

Join the online crowd outsourcing partnership

The National Archives have appealed for volunteers to help tag First World War unit diaries as part of their new 'Operation War Diary' outsourcing partnership with the Imperial War Museum. Volunteers are needed to record people, places and activities from the diaries as part of this major project. There are 1.5 million pages of war diaries from the British Army on the Western Front during WW1 which had been stored away in the archives. Volunteer help is needed to now reveal the stories of the men who fought in the Great War. If you have any spare time to assist you can sign up to the project here. The end result should be a great resource for researchers and family historians alike.

World War One war diaries

WW1 war diaries offer us a window into life in the Great War

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World War 2 RAF Casualty records now available to view

According to the latest news from The National Archives website, a collection of Second World War RAF casualty records has now been released to view. The records were produced by the Air Ministry's casualty branch following the loss of an aircraft or personnel. They include accident reports and correspondence with next of kin. Known as the AIR 81 series, the first tranche  contains 316 packs dating from the beginning of the war in September 1939 to May 1940. However, many of the files contain correspondence which runs into the 1950s and even the 1960s. This first collection of records does include some notable RAF raids from the early years of World War 2, such as the raid on the Albert Canal Bridges in Belgium in May 1940 when five aircraft from RAF No 12 Squadron were lost and the first Victoria Crosses of the war were awarded. There's more details at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/903.htm

New RAF Records released

New RAF casualty records released from the start of World War Two.

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New collections of papers received by The National Archives

The National Archives have just announced the receipt of a number of valuable collections received by the UK government in lieu of tax payments. Amongst the new collections are family and miscellaneous correspondence and early papers of the naturalist, Charles Darwin. Also received are correspondence, autograph collections, drawings and papers of Margaret Getty, the children's writer who died in 1873. The correspondence of the Acton family , Barons from the 13th to the 20th centuries has also been received. The National Archives have asked if any library, record office or similar institution in the UK is interested in obtaining the papers they should contact the Head of the Private Archives Team, Archives Sector Development, The National Archives. They can be emailed at: asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk for further information. The closing date is 28 February 2014.
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'Discovery' webinar date announced by The National Archives

This year, The National Archives announced 'Discovery' their new online catalogue, would become the only way to search online through The National Archives record collections. Many family historians were used to the previous 'Documents Online' system in place before Discovery so to help with any queries and to help people find their way around the new online catalogue, The National Archives have announced a webinar on the 20 January 2014. The webinar takes place from 14.00 to 15.00 hours UK time and will look at how to conduct searches, using keywords, filters and other useful features to help make the most of the 'Discovery' catalogue. It's hosted by Audrey Collins and if you'd like more information, please visit The National Archives website.  
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First 'accredited' archive services announced

The 'UK Archive Service Accreditation Committee' has announced the first fully accredited archive services:
  • Cumbria Archive Service
  • Exeter Cathedral Library and Archives
  • Media Archive of Central England
  • Network Rail Corporate Archive
  • Tyne and Wear Archives
  • Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Archive Service Acreditation is the new quality standard for archives services across the UK, developed in partnership with the archives sector and its stakeholders. It defines those organisations that maintain good practice and standards, including encouraging and supporting development. According to The National Archives, "it is aimed at organisations that hold archive collections, whatever their constitution, and covers both private and public sector archives. It enables archive services to review and develop their policies, plans and procedures against a UK wide standard which has been developed by the archives sector, identifying strengths of the archive service and providing a framework to improve areas of weakness." There's more available from The National Archives website.

Accredited Archive Service

The new Accredited Archive Service quality standard now being awarded

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'Explore Your Archives' campaign launched

A  new initiative was launched last week at The Houses of Parliament with a joint project by The Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland) and The National Archives  to raise awareness of archives, their value to society and the impact they have, every day, on individual lives. Clem Brohier, Acting Chief Executive of The National Archives, was joined by MPs, Lords, archivists, guests and campaign ambassadors at the parliamentary launch, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History. The campaign is aiming to encourage people to visit archives. So far,  hundreds of local, specialist and national archives across the UK and Ireland have been holding events, open days and exhibitions to showcase highlights from their collections. Caroline Williams, President of The Archives and Records Association remarked: "Public awareness of the role of archives is essential. Especially in the difficult times we find ourselves in. There are too many people who do not understand what an archive is or what an archivist does. We hope this campaign will bring many new people to an archive - in person or online." There's more details on the initiative at: http://www.exploreyourarchive.org/

Clem Brohier National Archives

Acting Chief Executive of The National Archives, Clem Brohier, introduces the new initiative

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JFK File digitised by The National Archives

To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F Kennedy, The National Archives have digitised the British Government's reaction to the events in 1963 and made it available online. The file, known as 11/4582 includes the draft statement prepared for then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home in which he told the nation: "You have heard the dreadful news. I find it almost impossible, as I expect you do, to accept the fact that President Kennedy is dead." The file also includes the telegram messages from The Queen and former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to President Kennedy's widow. There's more information available from the TNA website at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/891.htm
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Final set of colonial administrative records to be made available by The National Archives

Latest news from The National Archives is the final set of records relating to' colonial administration' will be available to view in the reading rooms at the TNA from Friday 29 November 2013. Within this new release are records from Malta, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, West Indies and many other countries. The National Archives have been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to transfer and release these colonial administration records. The material reflects events in the territories generally (pre-independence from Britain) and Her Majesty's Government's views at that time. If you had an ancestor or relative living or originating from these countries, the new release of records may be a useful read to find out more about life in that country at that particular point in time. There's more information available from The National Archives website at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/890.htm
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New delegates needed for The National Archives

The National Archives are currently seeking four new delegates for their 'User Advisory Group' . The User Advisory Group was set up in early 2011 to give users of The National Archives the opportunity to have a say in the planning and decision-making processes. Meetings are held at The National Archives in Kew, four times a year, and delegates are expected to make every effort to attend. In addition, prospective delegates are asked to commit to a minimum term of one year's service. They are after delegates representing different sections of the research user community, so if you use the services at Kew, you may wish to get involved and have your say. For more information go to the National Archives website at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/881.htm
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New education resources at The National Archives

The National Archives has just announced a new range of online resources for teachers and students for the new school year to further develop an interest and knowledge of the past.  There are five new collections of digitised documents and images now available including 'Life on board convict prison ships' and 'attitudes to crime and punishment' as well as looking at pictures, news and documents to explore 'life in Victorian Britain'. If you'd like to know more or want to see the other digitised collections available, there's more information from The National Archives website at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/878.htm
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