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July 27 2014


July 25 2014


Annual lecture of the Pipe Roll Society (2014): Formal record and courtroom reality in 13th and 14th century England

Please note: Professor Brand quotes direct dialogue from original plea rolls and some listeners might find the language offensive.

The Annual Lecture of the Pipe Roll Society 2014 was given by Professor Paul Brand, All Souls College Oxford. Professor Brand is one of the world’s leading experts on medieval law in England and Ireland and has published extensively on the subject.

The Pipe Roll Society is an academic society dedicated to publishing editions of the pipe rolls of the Exchequer and other medieval documents.

July 20 2014


July 18 2014


Keeping it in the family

In a period where politics could not be separated from dynasty and the personal relationships between individuals were crucial to government, women often played a key role in diplomacy. This was certainly the case in relations between England and Scotland in the medieval period, with sisters, daughters and cousins of English kings regularly being dispatched north of the border to forge links through marriage with the Scottish kings. This talk draws on records at The National Archives and elsewhere to illuminate the roles that these women played and discuss what light they can shed on Anglo-Scottish relations.

Dr Jessica Nelson works at The National Archives specialising in the high medieval period and her research interests include royal women and queenship.

July 13 2014


July 11 2014


Big Ideas: Sharing knowledge and expertise with business

The National Archives is engaged in its first Knowledge Transfer Partnership. The scheme aims to support UK businesses to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance by accessing knowledge and expertise in UK academic institutions. The scheme partners companies with academic institutions in order to develop knowledge, technology or skills they currently lack.

In this talk Kostas Ntanos, Head of Conservation Research and Development at The National Archives, will discuss the archives’ partnership with the IMC Group and how together they are developing a tool to assess environmental conditions with the aim of improving the preservation of records, reducing energy usage, and developing a performance benchmark.

Kostas Ntanos joined The National Archives in 2005 and has been Head of Conservation Research and Development since 2009. He has a keen interest in developing environmental management tools for users across the archival sector.

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.

July 06 2014


July 04 2014


Special Operations Executive (SOE) service – some alternative sources

Have you been unsuccessful in searching for a personal file for someone in SOE or perhaps you found a file containing little detail? There may be alternative or supplementary sources. This talk suggests ways to identify these sources and find further information about SOE service in records held at The National Archives.

Neil Cobbett has worked at The National Archives for 19 years, specialising in Special Operations Executive and modern (post-1688) Irish records.

June 29 2014


June 27 2014


Inconvenient people and how to find them: Tales from the Victorian lunacy panics

The 19th century saw a series of scandals concerning sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums, who were the victims of unscrupulous persons who wanted to be rid of a ‘difficult’ family member, spouse or friend. But who were the victims of this trade? How much can you find about contested cases, private asylums and dishonest doctors in the surviving records? Sarah Wise explains what she learned during research for her latest book, which made use of The National Archives’ holdings as well as a number of other less well known sources of data.

Sarah Wise’s debut, The Italian boy: Murder and grave robbery in 1830s London, was shortlisted for the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction and won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for non-fiction. Inconvenient people: Lunacy, liberty and the mad doctors (Vintage) has recently been published in paperback. Find out more at

June 22 2014


June 19 2014


Finding my father in Mesopotamia

Jenny Lewis’s father fought as a young man in the First World War campaign in Mesopotamia – modern day Iraq, Iran and Syria. He joined the South Wales Borderers in 1915 and served in Mesopotamia until 1917 when he was wounded at Kut al Amara. He died in 1944 when Jenny was a baby. Through a presentation of original photographs, poetry and witness statements from her latest collection, Taking Mesopotamia (which was heavily based on research at The National Archives) Jenny links the 2003-2011 Iraq war to its roots in the First World War campaign, traces her own roots to the father she never knew and shows how to turn historical and family research into poetry.

Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright and children’s author. She has published three collections of poetry and two pamphlets in English and Arabic with the Iraqi poet, Adnan al Sayegh. Her plays and poetry cycles have been performed at theatres across the UK. She teaches poetry at Oxford University. Find out more at

June 15 2014


June 10 2014


The untold story of the RAF's black Second World War fliers over Europe

While the United States could boast the black fliers of Tuskegee, few people are aware of the important contribution made by 500 RAF aircrew recruited from the Caribbean and West Africa. Overcoming the legacy of the official British Colour Bar to serve over Europe as pilots, navigators, flight engineers and air gunners, these men were pioneers in the truest sense. After suffering a loss rate of more than 30% and, in some cases, incarceration as black PoWs in Nazi Germany, the men returned to their countries of origin and were lost from the historical record. Mark Johnson has spent 17 years researching this tale, based on personal interviews with survivors, one of whom was his Jamaican great-uncle, a former navigator with Bomber Command’s No 102 (Ceylon) Squadron and a holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross. He outlines their backgrounds and motives for joining up and also describes their combat experiences and explores the possible significance of their legacy for integration and race relations.

Mark Johnson is a former soldier, a cyber-security writer and historian. His first history title, which tells the largely unknown story of the black RAF aircrew volunteers, is Caribbean volunteers at war (Pen & Sword). The author posts regular updates on his website at

June 08 2014


June 06 2014


Big Idea: A competition to encourage videogame design students to go 'Off the Map'

Stella Wisdom discusses the 'Off the Map' competition: a unique collaboration the British Library has with videogame company Crytek and GameCity festival based in Nottingham. Off the Map challenges students in higher education to build exciting, explorable, virtual environments using assets chosen by curators at the British Library and the power of Crytek's CRYENGINE software. The 2013 competition winners were De Montfort University's Pudding Lane Productions team with their stunning realisation of 17th century London.

Stella Wisdom is a curator in the Digital Research team at the British Library, exploring and promoting new methods of digital scholarship using both born digital content and digitised collections.

June 01 2014


May 30 2014


Reluctant regicides? The trial of Charles I revisited

Dr Andrew Hopper investigates the recent controversy among historians about the nature of the trial of King Charles I. Which individuals drove the king's trial and what were their aims and goals? Did the king know he was doomed from the outset or did doubts remain over the trial's outcome? How committed were the trial commissioners to a capital sentence and what pressures constrained their freedom of action?

The trial papers of Charles I are on view in The Keeper's Gallery.

Dr Andrew Hopper is senior lecturer in the Centre for English Local History at the University of Leicester. He is a historian of the British Civil Wars, and best known for his two monographs Black Tom: Sir Thomas Fairfax and the English Revolution (Manchester University Press, 2007) and Turncoats and renegadoes: Changing sides in the English Civil Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012).

May 27 2014


Webinar: Cloud storage and digital preservation

How can cloud storage help address growing digital preservation challenges? A webinar took place on 13 May 2014 to introduce The National Archives' new cloud storage and digital preservation guidance. The webinar was an opportunity to learn more about this guidance, and to put questions to the authors: Neil Beagrie, Andrew Charlesworth and Paul Miller.

If you have any queries about the presentation please contact Charles Beagrie Ltd.

Please note that this is a recording of a webinar and you might notice reduced sound quality.

May 25 2014

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