Monday, April 02, 2007


Have you used the Web site Access to Archives or A2A? According to the site,

“A2A allows you to search and browse for information about archives in England and Wales, dating from the eighth century to the present day. These archives are cared for in local record offices and libraries, universities, museums and national and specialist institutions across England and Wales, where they are made available to the public.
“To find out whether archives are of interest to you, it is necessary to consult a catalogue or other finding aids. A2A allows you to search across detailed catalogues from around 400 repositories in England and Wales beyond The National Archives at Kew, so you may arrange to see or to obtain copies of genuine historical documents with just a few clicks of your mouse. The database is regularly updated, so revisit often for newly-included catalogues!”

One of the advantages of this site is that you don’t need to know where the material might be housed, just your ancestor’s name. While looking for one of my more elusive ancestors, I found correspondence between he and his brother in Norfolk. It would not have been on my list of places to look having no known reason to suspect someone had been in Norfolk.
Once you’ve found a document, you can easily follow through to find the record office and send off a request for a copy. Some of the repositories may offer copies of a page or two free, but most are going to charge you for the service

Within the site is a list of items recently added to the now more than 10 million records. It’s an easy way to check periodically to see what has been added to the site. Not only can you search by a person’s name, you can search by a partial name. I used the first two given names of my grandfather without his surname and the first item up was about him. You can also search by subject or place. There is a lot of information on the site to read before you actually search. I find the whole site very well laid out.

One warning however, about this site. It is extremely addicting!!

Happy hunting!

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