Trial until 17 Nov: Digital Downloads (The National Archives)

Oxford researchers now have access to a trial of Digital Downloads from The National Archives (UK).


The National Archives (TNA) is the official archive of the UK Government and for England and Wales, collecting documents dating back over 1,000 years. Digital Downloads provides full access to TNA’s digitised collection of millions of historical records relevant for medieval to modern history. Apparently 5% of the TNA records have been digitised so far, with more being added.



The collections are very strong in military and naval history (e.g. service records), wills from 1384-1858, and migration history (e.g. alien’s registration cards 1918-1957).

Currently accessible collections include:

  • Aliens’ registration cards 1918-1957
  • British Army medal index cards 1914-1920
  • British Army nurses’ service records 1914-1918
  • British Army war diaries 1914-1922
  • Country court death duty registers 1796-1811
  • Durham Home Guard 1939-1945
  • Famous wills 1552-1854
  • French muster rolls from the Battle of Trafalgar 1805
  • Household Cavalry soldiers’ service records 1799-1920
  • Irish maps c1558-c1610
  • Logs and journals of ships of exploration 1757-1904
  • Looted art 1939-1961
  • Merchant seamen’s campaign medal records 1914-1918
  • Merchant seamen’s campaign medal records 1939-1945
  • Merchant shipping movement cards 1939-1945
  • Middlesex military service appeal tribunal 1916-1918
  • Naturalisation case papers 1801-1871
  • Prisoner of war interview reports 1914-1918
  • Recommendations for military honours and awards 1935-1990
  • Royal Air Force combat reports 1939-1945
  • Royal Air Force officers’ service records 1918-1919
  • Royal Air Force operations record books 1939-1945
  • Royal Flying Corps airmen
  • Royal Marines’ service records 1842-1925
  • Royal Naval Air Service officers
  • Royal Naval Air Service officers’ service records 1906-1918
  • Royal Naval Air Service ratings
  • Royal Naval Division service records 1914-1919
  • Royal Naval Reserve officers’ service records 1862-1964
  • Royal Naval Reserve personnel
  • Royal Naval Reserve service records 1860-1955
  • Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve service records 1903-1922
  • Royal Navy officers’ service record cards and files c1840-c1920
  • Royal Navy officers’ service records 1756-1931
  • Royal Navy ratings’ service records 1853-1928
  • Royal Navy unpaid pensions 1830-1860: claims by next of kin
  • Sir Anthony Eden’s private office papers 1935-1946
  • Victoria Cross registers 1856-1944
  • Victorian prisoners’ photograph albums 1872-1873
  • Wills 1384-1858
  • Wills of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel 1786-1882
  • Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps service records 1917-1920
  • Women’s Royal Air Force service records 1918-1920
  • Women’s Royal Naval Service personnel

Collections which will display on the site but which will not be accessible to anybody who does not have or findmypast accounts, include:

  • Alien arrivals
  • Alien entry books
  • British Army and militia 1760-1915
  • Census records
  • Crime, prisons and punishment 1770-1935
  • First World War soldiers’ service and pension records
  • Prisoners of war: selected records 1715-1945
  • Railway employment records 1833-1956
  • Royal Air Force airmen service records 1912-1939

The trial ends on 17 November. Feedback should be sent to

Also of interest: freely available in Oxford Central Library (& other public libraries)


Trial until 20 May: Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War

Oxford readers are invited to trial Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War.

Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War - logo

This resource provides access to British government secret intelligence and foreign policy files from 1873 to 1953. Sourced from The National Archives, the range of documents –from signals intelligence reports to government-directed policy and strategy– is relevant from the period of Appeasement right through to the early Cold War.

The content of the material is international in its breadth and scope. At the heart of this resource are the files of the Permanent Undersecretary’s Department (PUSD) which was the point of liaison between the Foreign Office and the British intelligence establishment.

Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War - screenshot

The sources include:

  • Correspondence
  • Directives
  • Financial Records
  • Maps
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Memoranda
  • Reports
  • Signals Intelligence Reports

The content of the material is international in its breadth and scope, and includes coverage of the following regions:

  • Africa
  • Atlantic
  • East Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Mediterranean
  • Middle East
  • North America
  • Pacific
  • South Asia

You can browse, filter, and search the documents by the following themes:

  • British Domestic Security
  • Foreign Policy and International Relations
  • Intelligence Funding and Finances
  • Intelligence Gathering and Surveillance
  • Intelligence Operations
  • Intelligence Organisation and Administration
  • Military Intelligence and Operations
  • Propaganda, Censorship, and Psychological Warfare
  • Signals Intelligence and Code-breaking
  • Weapons Technology and Nuclear Warfare

The resource is supplemented by:

  • five in-depth subject essays
  • a list of Key individuals: JIC Chairmen & Secretaries; Politicians, Statesmen and Royalty; Military Personnel; Intelligence Personnel; Intelligence Services Personnel, Agents and Defectors: Rest of World; and Diplomats and Civil Servants
  • a list of key organisations (UK and of other countries)

Please note that document download is not possible on the free trial product, so  users will need to use the Image Viewer to view the documents. If this resource was purchased, documents could then be downloaded in PDF format.

The trial ends on 20 May 2016. Feedback should be sent to

Related resources:

Digital Microfilm – new from National Archives – DocumentsOnline

The National Archives

You may be interested in a new TNA initiative: Digital Microfilm. It allows you to search and download some of The National Archives’ most popular records, which were previously available on microfilm. Many of the records are indexes and these may be helpful in locating other relevant records. These records have not been indexed and so you will need to scroll through the pdfs, much as you would when using a microfilm.

The pdfs cover records from the mid-17th century to World War Two and include, amongst others, Home Office, Foreign Office, Admiralty, Cabinet and War Office papers.

This is also bookmarked on HFL Delicious pages.