PAST Skills & Methodology Workshop: Modern Britain
PAST Skills & Methodology Workshop: Modern Britain

PAST Skills & Methodology Workshop: Modern Britain

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The National Archives

Bessant Drive

Richmond, United Kingdom

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The Postgraduate Archival Skills Training (PAST) programme offers students a unique opportunity to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to undertake academic research at The National Archives.

This Skills and Methodology Workshop will provide students with the essential skills to identify and access original source material in their field of study. During each session students will receive tuition and guidance on a range of archival research skills from our modern Britain records specialists and undertake practical exercises involving hands-on document work.

The primary aim of the two-day course is to develop attendees' knowledge and experience of using registers and indexes to correspondence generated and received by some of the major departments of state, which are crucial to making best use of nineteenth and twentieth century records.

On the first day of the workshop students will learn how best to use the advanced search functionality in Discovery, our catalogue, and what to do when online searches don't return the expected results.Other web resources, such as the Cabinet Papers website, will also be introduced.

Students will go on to learn about the organisation of registers and correspondence for the Home Office and the Ministry of HealthTo finish off the first day students will have the opportunity to apply what they have learnt with a practical exercise in the reading rooms, while accompanied by staff.

The second day will introduce registers and indexes for the Treasury and Admiralty, sets of documents which are of interest not only to economic and military historians. The influential role of the Treasury in government, defined by its power over public spending, and the interest the Admiralty took in non-military matters such as the spread of disease, will be of use to students of numerous subjects.

The course will end with further practical exercises and an opportunity to present and discuss findings with members of staff and other attendees.

At the end of the course you will have an understanding of how some of the registry systems of the great departments of state work, and how to apply this knowledge to make the most of research using original documents held at The National Archives, and beyond.

This event is aimed at current taught postgraduate and PhD students.

The workshop is held over two days on site at The National Archives. Tea and coffee at registration and lunch on both days are provided. 

For more information about the PAST programme please see The National Archives' website or email


Day 1 (Tuesday 21 February)

09:00   Registration and coffee (provided)

09:30   Welcome and introductions

09:45   Discovery: how to use our online catalogue

10:30   Online resources, databases and catalogues

11:00   Break

11:30   Practical exercises

12:30   Lunch (provided)

13:15   Home Office correspondence and registers

14:45   Break

15:00   Ministry of Health registry systems

16:30   Document ordering for evening session

16:45   Wrap up and feedback

17:00   Optional practical evening session

19:00   End of day one

Day 2 (Wednesday 22 February)

09:00    Treasury registers

10:30    Break  

11:00    Admiralty registers

12:30    Lunch (provided)

13:30    Reading room practical I

15:00    Break

15:30    Reading room practical II

16:30    Questions and round-up discussion

17:00    Close

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The National Archives

Bessant Drive

Richmond, United Kingdom

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