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There are a large number of archival and manuscript repositories in the UK that make their holdings available to researchers, including the National Archives, national libraries, universities and colleges, local record offices, churches, businesses and other private sector agencies. In the Higher Education sector alone there are over 80 repositories, made up of mostly libraries, archives or special collections departments.

Finding out which repository holds which archive or manuscript collection of relevance to your research can sometimes be the most difficult part of the research process. All repositories hold a variety of collections that cover a wide range of topics. Therefore, you should be prepared to make constant lateral intellectual jumps in trying to locate relevant material. Some of the most original research findings can come from studying archives and manuscripts held in unexpected places!

Here are some useful online tools for locating repositories and collections:

  • Archon Directory: a browsable alphabetical index providing access to contact details for over 3,000 record repositories in the UK and abroad which have substantial collections of manuscripts noted under the indexes to the National Register of Archives.

  • National Register of archives: a central point of reference for information about the nature and location of manuscripts relating to British history. The searchable online index contains over 44,000 unpublished lists and catalogues of achival holdings in the UK and abroad.

  • Archives Hub: a national gateway to descriptions of archives held in UK Higher Education institutions.
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