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October 03 2014


From British bobby to Hong Kong copper

This year marks the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Police. This talk traces the history of the organisation through the stories of a few very ordinary British constables from the 1840s up to the First World War. Some sacrificed their careers by standing up for the rights of their colleagues, while others spent a lifetime fostering good relations with the local community. These were the men who helped mould the Force into the highly respected organisation which it became during the 20th century.

Christine Thomas has had a 40 year career with the police in Hong Kong and London, working in the fields of Research and Archival Records Management. She is a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) and runs her own research service specialising in British expatriates who spent time in Hong Kong.

September 28 2014


September 21 2014


September 19 2014


The naval policy of the Free Church of Scotland

In 1843 the established Church of Scotland suffered a large secession of members who formed the Free Church of Scotland. In the early years of its existence the new church had to overcome a shortage of buildings and clergy, as well as the hostility of many landowners. Their response included the use of a floating church, a floating manse and the building of a yacht dedicated to the task of taking ministers to remote islands. The lecture looks at this curious episode in Scottish history and how and why the church evolved a 'naval policy'.

Alex Ritchie is the Business Archives Advice Manager at The National Archives. In this lecture he distils years of research into the shipbuilding industry, maritime history and Scottish church history. He also reveals a key fact discovered in The National Archives itself.

September 15 2014


'A World of Their Design': The men who shaped Tudor diplomacy

In a time of shifting politics and world changing events, three men would emerge as masterful diplomats, ambassadors and advisors who possessed a shrewd political acumen. They each shared a complex and intriguing relationship with the other, while manipulating the powers around them in the game of diplomacy. Lauren Mackay explores the intersecting lives of Thomas Boleyn, Eustace Chapuys and Thomas Cromwell: the men behind the thrones.

Lauren Mackay is a historian whose research focuses on courtiers and diplomats of the 16th century. She completed her Master of History with University of New England, and is currently researching her PhD on Thomas and George Boleyn in the English Reformation, with the University of Newcastle in Australia.

September 14 2014


September 07 2014


September 04 2014


'Things as are all Forms, & Ceremonys': Ritual and authority in the reign of Queen Anne

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, impatient with courtly ritual, gave Queen Anne grudging praise for her knowledge of protocol: 'She has the greatest memory that ever was, especially for such things as are all forms, & ceremonys, giving people their due Ranks at Processions & their proper Places at Balls, & having the right order at Installments & funerals.'

The detailed records of court rituals held by The National Archives – including papers related to Anne’s coronation, the state visit she hosted for 'Charles III' of Spain, the funeral of Prince George, and her own funeral – attest to her close attention to courtly propriety. This talk explains that her motives for insisting on proper rituals were not merely personal and nostalgic but shrewdly political and diplomatic.

James A Winn is William Fairfield Warren Professor of English at Boston University. His books include Unsuspected Eloquence (1981), a history of the relations between poetry and music; John Dryden and His World (1987), a prize-winning biography; and The Poetry of War (2008).

There is a small degree of interference in the audio quality of this live recording.

September 03 2014


Webinar: Why did people fear the Victorian workhouse?

The workhouse was a major feature in the lives of the poor, whether or not they were ever inmates themselves. This webinar can help you to explore records in The National Archives, showing what life was like inside the workhouse, and how it was viewed by those outside.

Paul Carter is The National Archives’ principal specialist in modern domestic records. He has a particular interest in poor law records.

A 'webinar' is an online seminar. This webinar took place on 11 June 2014.

September 01 2014


Webinar: An introduction to emigration sources for family historians

This webinar looks at passenger lists and other records for the popular destinations for migrants leaving the UK. Increasing numbers of these records have been digitised and are now available online.

Mark Pearsall is a Family History Records Specialist at The National Archives, and co-authored Family History On The Move.


Webinar: Tracing British battalions or regiments during the First World War

Unit war diaries, trench maps and photographs are just some of the sources held in The National Archives. This webinar looks at how to find these records and how to use them.

David Langrish graduated in War Studies from the University of Kent and is a member of the military records team.

A 'webinar' is an online seminar. This webinar took place on 11 June 2014.

August 31 2014


August 29 2014


Webinar: Army musters – more than just accounts

This webinar looks at how the army accounted for the money it spent on its personnel and what you can discover in the records in addition to financial costs.

William Spencer is The National Archives’ Principal Records Specialist in military history, and the author of a number of books on military records.


Webinar: An introduction to medieval and early modern sources for family historians

Medieval and early modern records can be very informative, although they are often harder to locate than those for more recent periods. This webinar provides an overview of sources in The National Archives and elsewhere.

Nick Barratt is head of the Medieval and Early Modern team. He is also a writer and broadcaster on a range of historical subjects.

August 22 2014


Did she kill him? Addiction, adultery and arsenic in Victorian Britain

Florence Chandler was in her early 20s when she married much older James Maybrick, a Liverpool cotton broker, in 1881. Eight years later, tensions seethed. James was addicted to arsenic. Both were unfaithful. When James died suddenly, Florence was arrested for his murder. Was Florence victim or aggressor? Was she tried for her morality? Relying primarily on records from The National Archives, Kate Colquhoun re-examines the case dubbed by many as the greatest miscarriage of English justice and she asks what light it sheds on late Victorian society.

Kate Colquhoun has written a biography of Joseph Paxton and a history of Britain through its food. She also wrote the non-fiction bestseller Mr Briggs' Hat, about the first murder on a British train.

August 15 2014


War and Peace conference: Closing remarks: the First World War and intelligence

Closing remarks by Gill Bennett, former Chief Historian, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1995-2005.

This talk was recorded live at the one-day conference, War and peace – diplomacy, espionage and the First World War, held on 28 June 2014 at The National Archives, Kew.


Big Ideas: Big Data for Law

Big data is big news. Did you know an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s data was created in the last two years (see Insights gleaned from large datasets are increasingly driving business innovation and economic growth. Underpinning this ‘big data revolution’ is a powerful combination of low cost cloud computing, open source analytics software and new research methodologies. These are enabling us to move from simply storing large sets of data to extracting real value from them. Big data analysis can now tell us everything from the most borrowed library books in 2013 to the most overweight areas in England.

John Sheridan, Head of Legislation Services, introduces the Big Data for Law project. Why does data matter in law? What are we doing to transform the legal research? Can you imagine what an annual ‘census’ of the statute book might look like and what it could be used for? If you care about law, how it works and how we can make legislation clearer and more accessible, this talk is unmissable.

This event took place as part of Big Ideas, a series of monthly talks on big ideas coming out of The National Archives’ research programme.

August 10 2014


August 08 2014


Writer of the month: A very British murder

A Very British Murder is Lucy Worsley’s account of a national obsession – a tale of dark deeds and guilty pleasures

Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which opens up The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace to more than three million visitors a year. Before that, she worked for English Heritage and Glasgow Museums. As well as writing books about history, she presents history television programmes for the BBC.

This talk was part of Writer of the Month – a series of talks, in which each month a high profile author shared their experiences of using original records in their writing.

August 03 2014

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