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The National Archives UK, hosted on NationalArchives.gov.uk, are a world famous resource for finding documents covering more than 1,000 years of UK history. Whilst this site might not be perfect for building family trees, sharing photos and reuniting with living relatives, it has a huge amount of historic information, including films and photos. If you want to delve in the UK’s past, this is the place to come.
The main issue you may have with The National Archives UK is that it’s potentially more of a “history” site than a devoted genealogy website. This website is used by professional researchers, so the depth you can go into is quite surprising. If you live near the archive building, you can also attend events or visit the actual documents first-hand, which gives it an edge over many other online genealogy resources.
The archive has digitised a lot of its content, however it’s nowhere close to having everything available online. Still, there are some excellent resources available online, including videos by historians, podcasts and more. This makes it useful and enjoyable for understanding British history, which has spanned the world in the last 1000 years.
Searching for information is pretty simple and efficient. Results can also be filtered to include certain dates or by the institute/building which holds the documents. Advanced search options are also available, which is ideal if you want to narrow down the fields to find something a bit more obscure.
If you’re a student or teacher then NationalArchives.gov.uk is well worth a visit. They have some really great tools such as virtual classrooms and virtual conferencing. Resources, such as lesson plans, are also provided. If you are willing to travel to the archives in person, then you can request assistance and learn how to improve your research techniques. Regular workshops and events run at the archives, so it’s worth checking the site regularly to see if anything is coming up which you might enjoy.
Membership to the site is free and you can also engage with other members on forums. This is a good way to easily find help, exchange ideas and more. You can also sign up for a free newsletter, alerting you to offers and new projects.
For members outside of the UK, this site might still prove useful. The UK’s history is long and has spanned the world (for better or worse) so many records relate to other nations which the UK have been linked with. However, it’s mainly a useful resource for better understanding UK history.
If you’re looking for documents about your ancestors, The National Archives UK may or may not prove useful. It’s worth performing free searches to see whether it will offer the sort of information you want. If you’re stuck then you could request assistance, or read through the various learning documents to get advice on how to progress if you hit a dead end.
Whilst NationalArchives.gov.uk lacks a number of tools you might want from a genealogy website, it also has lots to offer, much of which is free. It would certainly be a useful resource for most historical research, particularly if you combine it with another site which provided the features it’s missing.
Click on the button below to check out NationalArchives.gov.uk for yourself...