Monday, 7 July 2014

Archive Profile: UK National Archives

Originally published at the Military Nursing Project.

By Erin Spinney

Reposted as part of our Summer travel feature here at "Thoughts Across Time" a profile of my the UK National Archives and my work there.

Why am I Here?

AO 1/1524/285 Roll detailing hospital expenses in Minora 1799-1800

The United Kingdom National Archives is a central depository for Government records.  I am primarily interested in naval pay lists for hospitals and hospital ships featuring nurses by name along with other information from ADM 102.  I am collecting data from these records to create a database of nurses for prosopographical analysis.  I can also track the amount of money paid to nurses in army hospitals on a campaign basis, through auditors rolls.  Unfortunately these do not list individual nurses by name.

I also use various sets of letter books including letters to and from the Navy’s Sick and Hurt Board in ADM 97 and ADM 98.  As well as letters received from various hospital inspectors and other medical practitioners in ADM 105.  Regulations and other instructions to hospital administrators, often including stipulations on the employment of nurses are also found in these letter books, as well as, printed regulations issued in 1808 for hospitals at home and abroad (ADM 106/3091 and ADM 106/3092).

The National Archives also hold hospital plans that are particularly informative detailing ward organization, building layouts, and locations of apartments for nurses and other staff members.

Where am I?

The National Archives are located at Kew in the London Borough of Richmond and is a ten minute walk from Kew Gardens Station accessible by District and Overground lines.


So what’s it like to do research here? In short it is rather wonderful.

Flowers from the grounds
The document room on the first floor is the primary reading room and is surprisingly bright making picture-taking easy.  The large windows offer a good view of trees and passing trains.  Each seat number has a large cubby for document storage.  Readers can remove and re-deposit documents in their cubby themselves.  Copying services, camera stands, computer terminals and reference help is available outside of the reading room.

The second floor is home to the map and large document reading room.  Seats in this room are not assigned though your documents are organized by your seat number from the first floor.  There are several large tables which can be raised and lowered by staff to facilitate the reading of your documents.  The staff is helpful and patient, and I’m grateful for their assistance in helping me tackle the daunting task using rolls!

The ground floor has locker storage (where you don’t need a £1 coin deposit!), a cafe, restaurant, Keeper’s Gallery with various exhibits, and a bookshop.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe grounds are lovely – a perfect place for lunch and a coffee!
There are two ponds, home to ducks and swans, with the walkway to the national archives between them.  One pond is bordered with a small alcove of trees, flowers, and a large lawn.



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