TNA Research Guides

October 9, 20206:33 amLeave a Comment

There are many different types of family history website out there and quite a few of them, both commercial and private, fee-paying and free, include indexes and transcriptions.  These are great and can be an absolute boon for genealogists.

Image of the front entrance of The National Archives

The front entrance of The National Archives

However, in our enthusiasm for finding all those websites which encourage us to simply “type in our name…” etc, let’s not forget the vast number of websites out there which provide us with detailed information on sources, how to find them and how to get the best from them.

For me, one of my absolute ‘Go To’ sites for providing information is The National Archives (TNA) website.

I first started using the TNA website when I needed to know about military sources.  While I’m certainly not a military historian (any of the military historians here at the History Centre will certainly attest to that!) I do want to know what military records survive, where they are and what they are.  Have you ever found something on a website, such as Ancestry or Find My Past, and been thrilled to bits to find an ancestor but then realise that you don’t know what you’re looking at?  Well that happens to me quite often, particularly with military records but with other things too.

The National Archives logoThat’s when I turn to the TNA Guides  to help me understand what I’m looking at.  Their ‘key word’ search is really useful.  I used it to search for anything to do with Marines and up popped 46 possible research guides!  Everything from Royal Marine Commandoes to the Royal Society of Marine Artists (who knew?!).  Helpfully, when you click on the particular guide you are interested in, it also flags up other guides which might be relevant to your research.

The guides not only contain many ‘how tos’ but they also have links to indexes (be warned, some of these are commercial sites), other record repositories but most importantly of all, the relevant catalogue numbers.  I’ll be writing about using archive catalogues next week but be sure to explore all the catalogue and see how it is broken down into sections.

The guides are not a step by step ‘how to find your ancestor’ but they are great signposts.  So next time you find a reference to something online and you don’t know what it is, see if the TNA guides can help.

Keep safe and well and Happy Researching!

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Written by Jane Lewis - Modified by ESP Admin

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