National Archives - Kew Tips?

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by von Poop, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. vac

    vac Member

    IWM will let you take copies of anything for private research/use but permission is needed if you intend to publish through print, public lecture/talks or online etc. Official documents or other published material - books, pamphlets etc can be quoted from under the "fair dealings" bit of copyright law but not private papers. If you need to quote extensively from printed stuff or use private papers in any proposed work you intend to publish or put online you need copyright owner's permission. For private papers IWM will facilitate this for you and also provide sample request letters for you to use.

    I have found IWM to be very useful - yes you do have to book to visit and request material 5 working days ahead but their online catalogue knocks TNA into a cocked hat so it is very easy to identify what you want. The private papers are pure gold that adds so much to the war diaries and other official material from TNA. (And for those of us north of London and train dependent, Lambeth is soooo much easier to get to than Kew).
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Thanks a lot for the information.
  3. Mori

    Mori Active Member

    (Sorry if this was noticed already) You can email from TNA computers, since they give web access. I've just done it a few days ago.

  4. Mori

    Mori Active Member

    It's actually much easier than the ca. 15 steps described there:
    -prepare a "new message" in your email
    -download the TNA documents, all of them.
    -access the download manager (CTRL+J or the link on the bottom right of the screen)
    -CTRL+A to select all files, then draw them to your email.
    - press send.

    The only limit is the maximum attachment size your email accepts.
  5. Mori

    Mori Active Member

    Hello all,

    I haven't checked this thread in a while, and I see a lot of moaning and groaning.

    Comparing with similar places in other countries, TNA at Kew is still the best I have ever been. It's user-friendly, staff are not only welcoming but also have a decent expertise, facilities are just great. Let me give some specifics:

    - ordering: all self-service through computers. Very simple, all automatic.
    Vs... NARA in Washington: ordering process is checking a printed catalog (nothing electronic), then filling a paper form, then giving it to staff. You must repeat the same informations (date, reader number etc.) on the forms for each different series you order

    - ordering quantity: there is no limit on how many items you may order in a day. Certainly, you order only 3 at a time, and you should return some of them not to have more than 20 in your pigeon holes, but that's not a definite limit on the number or items per day. And you can advance order and start with a full pigeon hole.
    Vs... French archives in Vincennes: no more than 5 items per day. Right now, I have 21 files to check there, and this will be... 5 visits. At TNA, I would have got all of them on the same day.

    - delivery: the pigeon hole system is super convenient. You can take/remove documents as you wish, in the order you wish. You can leave them for the day after.
    Vs... everywhere else: there is a queue at the document delivery desk. Keeping documents for another day requires a specific request. If you return a document, it's filed back and not kept close by

    - reading: the reading room is wide and comfortable, but that's not unique. However, the number of photo stands is.
    Vs... NARA: only 3 photo stands (but they allow people to bring in their own stand)
    Vs... a number of places: just no photo stand at all!
  6. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    TNA computer policies have changed since I posted that.
  7. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    Afternoon to all

    Just gone onto the TNA website to preorder some documents for a trip in a couple of weeks, and notice the Bulk Ordering has changed. Minimum documents has gone up from 15 to 20, and total up to 40 (and don't have to be sequential) which is great.
    However if you are ordering sequential numbered files then you can only now order 40 and not 50 as before.
    You also now have to give 3 working days notice, and they will only now allow 8 Bulk Orders a day.

    Makes it better for me but not necessarily for others!

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
    MongoUK likes this.
  8. MongoUK

    MongoUK Junior Member

    My favourite days of the year are spent trawling through taking horrendous amounts of photos at Kew.

    I'll admit that I haven't trawled through the entirety of the thread, but just thought I'd throw my tuppence worth in, for future ref.

    I have found that the best way I have many to organise my day at Kew, is to:

    Pre Visit:
    a) List far more than I think I need.
    b) Order it on a spreadsheet in order of guessed priority.
    c) Bulk order the biggest chunk.
    d) Advance order the next 12 most important.

    At Kew
    I was advised last time I went, that bulk orders and advance orders are viewed differently to in house orders, so I was told that I could have ordered my next 3 as soon as I got through the door.

    So that way, in theory, you can turn up, order 3 files, then whilst you wait the 45 minutes for them, start working through the 12 advance order.
    As soon as they arrive, work through them, so you can return and order the next 3.
    Then carry on through the advance order again.
    Rinse and repeat until your ordering allocation of 21 or 24 maximum (I can't remember which it is...) and advance order are worked through.

    This then leaves you with the rest of your time there to work through your bulk order until close/your leave time, without the worry that you will miss the 4pm ordering cutoff or will have to leave earlier than intended because you haven't gotten through the order allocation.

    So in theory, you can view a maximum of 83-86 files in one day.

    On my first visit, I managed about 900 pictures of documents. The last time I had refined it a bit and got 1400. Next time, I'm hoping to test this theory and get even more.

    Apologies if all of this has already been covered :)
    CL1 and Seroster like this.
  9. MongoUK

    MongoUK Junior Member

    ok, so on reading through all 32 pages, I'm clearly still pretty slow in my picture taking, and at risk of a telling off for doing a bulk and an advance, although I had no issues last time I tried :)
  10. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Here is my pics taken 'evolution'.

    1st visit - 2010 - 290
    2nd visit - 2010 - 698
    3rd visit - 2012 - 1,333
    4th visit - 2013 - 1532
    5th visit - 2014 - 1978
    6th visit - 2015 - 1580
    7th visit - 2017 - 1798

    It's backbreaking stuff being stooped over a camera stand for up to 9 hours. But the material you can go home with should keep you busy for many years.

    Best tip. Take a photo of the yellow label that comes with each document before you start to photograph its contents. So when you get home and look at them all on your PC, you can see straight away where each document starts and ends. The label also has the WO Ref on it for later reference.

    Hope this helps

    bamboo43 likes this.
  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Some good tips there Gus. My back is just recovering from Saturdays visit and that was only 7 files copied.
    gmyles likes this.
  12. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    I wasted lots of time on my first visit doing checks and counting to make sure I got everything I needed. Last time I was there I checked about 1 pic every hour just to make sure it was in focus.

    My failure rate was about 1 in every 100 pages was either out of focus or missing as I turned 2 pages at the same time by accident.

    On my last visit, I copied just Decembers pages of 3 Corps G Ops Staff War Diary for 1944.

    That single file weighted in at 503 pages. :omg:

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
    bamboo43 likes this.
  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I think we have been on similar learning curves Gus. :D
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    You need more practise Gus ;)
    gmyles likes this.
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Surely you must need a chiropractioner by now Andy. :salut:
  16. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I keep putting off the 4th Ind Div G file for 1944 as I have a sneaking suspicion that the paper wallahs will have gone overboard and included the feed requisitions for the divisional mules.

    The '42 diary has 952 pages for just seven months covered--and they only had two brigades at that time!
    gmyles likes this.
  17. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    I am really surprised I have had no after effects from all that copying.



    AndyBaldEagle and Drew5233 like this.
  18. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    Dependent on what I am copying I can do between 3000 and 4000 photos a day!
    The ordering system has changed I noticed the other day when ordering a bulk order for a visit to come - you can now order up to 40 non sequential documents (cant order 50 sequential now) but must order a minimum of 20 (no longer 15). Also when they email you the copy of the order, it tells you exactly which files one has ordered!!!

    A lot better in my view - especially 40 in a bulk order

  19. Mori

    Mori Active Member

    I've heard some copy up to 7000 or 8000 pages in a day - I assume that's without lunch or technical breaks. A typical day is 4-5000 photos.

    It gives a sense of the cost to pay to a private researcher. Say 5000 images in a 8 hours day, that's ca. 10 seconds per image.

    If one day work is worth EUR/GDP/USD 100 (which is ca. EUR/GDP/USD 2000/month - reasonable for a pretty repetitive & low skill job), that's EUR/GDP/USD 0,02 per image.

    In other words, a 100 pages document should cost 2 euros or so. That does not mean it should be the price, but it gives a sense of the mark-up. If you pay, 10 euros for 100 pages, you give a x5 mark-up - a mark-up only comparable to alcoholic beverages in a pub.
  20. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    And yet no one at the Archives has ever thought to employ you eager beavers and get a copy of your files to make available online. Would certainly speed up the process of digitising all this stuff.
    MongoUK, timuk and bamboo43 like this.

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