Postgraduate Archival Skills Training (PAST): Modern Overseas Skills and Me...

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The National Archives



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 Level 2 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 overseas records specialists and undertake practical exercises involving hands-on document work.

The first day of the workshop will first focus on developing expertise in finding records held by The National Archives and other institutions. 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.

We will introduce some tips and tricks for archival research which will help you maximise your time in the archives, including the use of online resources such as Cabinet Papers online, how to build a database and how to records and cite sources.

The afternoon will be devoted to Foreign Office records. We will provide an introduction into the principal series of the correspondence of the Foreign Office, looking at registers and indexes to correspondence from 1782 to 1890, the revised system from 1890 to 1905 and a further series of indexes and registers covering the period 1906 to 1953. We will also look at the modern era from 1954 onwards, where the online catalogue is the primary research tool.

To finish off the day, students will be offered an opportunity to apply those skills themselves in the Reading Rooms during an optional assisted research session taking the form of practical exercises.

The second day will be devoted to Colonial Office and Dominions Office records. We will show how these records can be explored using contemporary registers and indexes.

The course will end with some more 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 an understanding of them will enable you to make the most of research using original documents held at The National Archives, and beyond.

This event is aimed at current taught postgraduate (MA, MSc etc.) and first year PhD students, although students at later stages of their PhD are welcome to attend.

Please note it is strongly recommended that students complete Level 2 before progressing to the Level 3 Records Workshop.

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 (Thursday 21 January)

09:00 Registration & coffee (provided)

09:30 Welcome and introductions

10:00 Discovery, how to use our online catalogue

10:45 Break

11:00 The National Archives' online resources (inc. Cabinet papers) and the Library

12:30 Lunch (provided)

13:15 Foreign Office indexes and registers I

14:45 Break

15:00 Foreign Office indexes and registers II

16:45 Questions, wrap up and feedback

17:00 Optional practical evening session

19:00 End of Day 1

Day 2 (Friday 22 January)

09:00 Colonial Office and Dominions Office indexes and registers I

10:30 Break

11:00 Colonial Office and Dominions Office indexes and registers II

12:30 Lunch (provided)

13:30 Reading room practical

15:30 Break

15:30 Reading room practical II

16:00 Presentations on research exercises, questions and round up discussion

17:00 Close

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The National Archives



United Kingdom

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