A2A contact! Accessing your archives
Local groups contribute to the national online archives database
By Rose Malik
Access to Archives (A2A), first launched in 2000, is a single online database, a remarkable means of finding what you want among a huge volumes of archives held in a wide range of places across England and Wales. The records in the database are as diverse as the contributing archives. Thanks to local groups contributing their material through the Archives 4 All part of the programme, alongside national and local archive repositories, you can find entries for archives that include community photographs, maps, letters and a wide range of personal papers.
Financed by an award from the Treasury’s Invest to Save Budget in 2000, and largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the A2A programme, which has been supported by The National Archives and the British Library, is an innovative database, described by Vic Gray, Convenor of CADG, as “the most significant attempt yet to bring British archives, in all their richness, to the desktop of the enquirer, wherever he or she may be, in any corner of the world”.
The National Archives celebrated the final phase a t a recent event attended by partners, stakeholders past and present, and members of the public. Speakers from a cross-section of the archival community gave insightful accounts of how A2A has affected their projects and local communities.
The current Chief Executive of the National Archives, Natalie Ceeney, paid tribute to the success of A2A. “It’s testament to its popularity and success that what started as a relatively small database 7 years ago when it was launched, now contains over 10 million records relating to 9.35 million items held in over 400 records offices and other repositories throughout England and Wales dating from the eighth century to the present day.”
After March 2008 no further new material will be added to the A2A site, but the website itself will continue as a resource to be used by everyone with access to the internet.
The website is being moved to a robust platform to facilitate the continued updating of material already in A2A. For more information about projects involved in Archives 4 All please go to www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/partnerprojects/a4a/
If you haven’t used it go and find out what A2A can tell you about your chosen place or subject of interest. The database can be found at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a