The National Archives of England have a database called A2A or Access to Archives. It is part of the UK archives network. The database is made up of catalogues which describe what is in many local archives across England and Wales. The records go from the eighth century to modern day.
The information comes from local record offices, libraries, universities, museums and national and specialist institutions across England and Wales but it is not all inclusive.
No new information being added to the database but that does not diminish its importance.
When you click on a reference found in A2A you will find a link to the repository holding the original documentation. This link will provide you with the information needed to contact them and what you need to know if you decide to go there to view the documents.
The amount of detail found in the descriptions depends on the originating facility. If you want to find more information on the catalogue entry then contact the relevant repository.
You can not view any images on A2A but you can contact the repository to see if a copy can be made of the document and what the reproduction fee would be.
I have used this database many times. Once I found a record and when I contacted the repository they told me that all the family detail was in the description on A2A and that the record would not be able to be copied because of preservation reasons. Still I was able to get the family details from the document.
Once I found a real gem, a letter from an ancestor requesting a person of nobility’s support in obtaining a post at Dublin Castle. This and other information in the letter was fantastic not to mention the letter was written by my ancestor in 1767. As a result I have his signature and a sample of his handwriting which is something rarely found for that time period.
When searching A2A you may find something in Derbyshire that seems to relate to your family but they lived in London. Remember that family papers and other items were not always placed in a repository near where they lived. They may have had dealings with someone whose home was in another county so therefore their papers were placed in that family’s home county archives or local record office.
Keep an open mind and follow up every lead.
©2011 – Blair Archival Research