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Thread: National Archives Files 'Index'?

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    Default National Archives Files 'Index'?

    Dear all

    Apologies if this is being a bit dim, but is there anywhere a sort of index of the different files at TNA?

    I don't mean searching via the Catalogue as that depends on using key words and if you don't guess or use the right key word you might miss the file you really want. Further, the file title itself might not give you a clear indication of what a file might actually contain.

    So I guess what I'm asking is; is there a sort of master 'index' of files - say working down the tree in 'Air 14' or 'Air 25' or whatever, showing the files withing that Series, what they cover and (even better!) what the type of stuff the individual files might contain.

    I suspect the answer will be 'no' simply because of the sheer number of files, but if you don't ask these things of our experts you won't find out.

    Ta in advance

    Ian

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    Default NA Index

    Ian

    Not quite clear what you mean by "index".

    If you search on PROCAT enter "AIR14" in the box at top left ("type reference here"); open AIR14 and then click on "browse from here" this enables you to go through the files in file/piece number order. If you visit Kew there is a paper index available, in red binders in the research area, which enables you to browse in the same way.

    Steve

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    Default NA Index

    OK, thanks Steve

    Sounds like the sort of thing is was thinking of. I'll give it a try.

    I suppose what I was after is something you can look through which might flag up a sort of 'That looks interesting, I'll take a look at that!' response. And/or something that might show you what's actually contained within the individual files, that you might not guess from the file's title.

    I just felt that browsing using key words must be a bit hit and miss as you firstly have to select (guess) the right words to use, to match the file's title, and then that title might not itself give you a clue as to what 'nuggets' might be inside.

    Anyway, I'll give it a go.

    Thanks again

    Ian

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    Default

    hello,

    I think I have what you mean, but it's on paper form, printed 8 years ago when I started to create my own catalogue. The previous PROCAT online catalogue enabled to print references in a row, not the actual one, which gives access to one reference at a time.

    Just the letters make 8 pages, from
    A : records of the Alienation Office, to
    ZSPC : Publications of other materials formerly held by the British Transport Historical Record Office Library,
    through the famous ADM, AIR, AVIA, CAB, WO and so on.

    I then printed from
    AIR 1 : Air Ministry : Air History Branche : Papers (series 1) 15805 records
    AIR 2 : Air Ministry and Ministry of Defence : registered files 42125 records
    to AIR 80 : Air Ministry : Master General of Personnel and Director of Personnel Airwomen's Records 268 records
    Since then (August 2000), new classes have been created.

    I think you'll have to follow Steve's advice, unless you manage to find a way to have all reference together. Then copy and paste into a wordprocessor document, to have a compact text. Good luck

    Joss

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    Ian,

    The List & Index Society (http://www.listandindexsociety.org.uk/index1.html) has in the past published in paper form some of the 'air' related Indexes (Air Historical Branch, Air Ministry, Ministry of Aircraft Production). In their listing on the site all are shown as out of print. However, further on there is mention that by contacting the secretary one might be able to obtain a reprint of some of the Society's publications.

    Errol

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    Default

    Ian,
    Have you tried the Research Guides?

    http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/researchguidesindex.asp?j=1

    Besides the good advice already given, they are usually helpful in establishing a starting point for research. Even though I don't know what your particular subject is, there are a couple of other things that may help.
    1 The card index at Kew contains many file references not included in the digital online catalogue. Most of these are directing the reader to a reference inside a file, not mentioned in the file name or description. However, you must be at Kew to use it.
    2 An innovation that is slowly being built up in the online catalouge is "Your Archives", where readers can add comments about the contents of a particular file or cross reference other files that may be of relevance. Not many files have been included yet, but it is sometimes very helpful. The link is at the bottom of the page when you are a viewing a file description.

    It is worth stating the obvious here: the online catalogue gives a description of the contents, but there is no online access to the contents YET, except I believe in the case of some census data. The proposed move to digitize the contents of a few million files, especially those that would interest many users of this forum, is contentious and by no means seen as a “good thing” by many people, especially those in the organisation.


    Hope this helps,

    Bruce

  7. #7
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    Default

    Hi Ian,

    What you want is a Researchers dream and I am sure that, one day, it will come true but not at the moment. There is a lot of good advice here which you will find really useful but a visit to the NA is the only real way of finding what you want.

    I was there yesterday and still managed to suffer from the frustrations that generic indexing generates when using the catalouge.

    Could you be more specific in your area of interest as I may have document references that I have used in the past that could assist you.

    Regards

    Paul Johnson

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