Our objectives are to educate the public in the knowledge of public and other records, and to promote and assist the work of The National Archives (TNA) through fund-raising and practical support. Since 1988, the Friends has provided vital assistance to numerous projects through our volunteers and funding support. We have enabled records of all kinds and classes to be conserved, preserved, catalogued, calendared, indexed, made accessible and studied.

Our latest Friends’ Guide


An exciting new FTNA-funded project to catalogue the Great Cowcher Books is underway. The Great Cowcher Books of the duchy of Lancaster (TNA, DL 42/1-2) are some of the greatest treasures deposited with The National Archives. They are perhaps second only to Domesday Book in their importance as a record of medieval landholding and lordship across many counties of England and Wales. Equally, the books are compiled using the finest, most high-quality materials. Yet, both their beauty as objects and the importance of their content to researchers remain under-appreciated. Thanks to this new project, Lordship, Identities and Communities: The Duchy of Lancaster’s Medieval Estates, this is all about to change. Regular updates on this project will be provided on the Updates page.

On 18 May 2022 Professor Louise Wilkinson gave an update to the project entitled ‘The Treasures of the Medieval Duchy of Lancaster’ to Members of the Friends. The talk was recorded and is available to Members by logging in and navigating to The Talks Programme /Archive of Past Talks / Other Historical Topics.

Some of the other project work we have supported include SP 20/10-13 (Parliamentary Sequestration Committee); KB 9 (King’s Bench Indictments) MH47 (Conscientious Objectors Tribunals); C 5, 7, & 8 (Chancery proceedings) and HCA 30 & 32 (Prize papers – the High Court of Admiralty). We have supported various conferences, including those on RMS Titanic; Railways; various aspects of the First World War and the Prize Papers. We help to fund talks and events at The National Archives and supported the Writer of the Month series in 2013.

We have supported competitions based on the use of historical records to create films and computer games. We have jointly funded projects with the British Association of Local History, the Federation of Family History Societies and the National Maritime Museum.

We work closely with TNA’s education and outreach teams by providing funds for projects involving a wide range of activities with schools and community groups.

For a list of TNA’s projects that have been funded by the Friends since 2017, click here.


Some of the projects we have worked on include the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills and administrations (PROB 12/17-119), Chancery proceedings (C 2 –  C 10), Admiralty papers (ADM 106, 354, 359), War Office records (WO 69, 97, 119, 121), the vast collections of photographs submitted to Stationer’s Hall prior to 1912 (COPY 1) and Civilian Awards for Bravery in WWII (HO 250). Some members work from home and others at Kew. Our members support The National Archives in other ways too. Volunteers assist in the Library and provide tours of the Keeper’s Gallery. Members also undertake book reviews for the Bookshop, help with recruiting for the Friends, and provide general assistance during events and public surveys.