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Talks and events

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  • The National Archives regularly holds talks from different speakers as well as various events such as seminars, workshops and conferences. We’re keen to know a little bit more about what inspires people to come to these.

    Have you ever been to a talk or event at The National Archives? If so, which ones have you been to and how did you find your experience? What would make you come again?

    If you haven’t been before, what would encourage you to do so? Conversely is there anything that puts you off?

    Do you ever attend talks or events provided by other organisations and if so which have you been to? Let us know in our discussion thread, below.

  • Profile picture of Bob Douglas Bob Douglas 2 years, 4 months ago:

    My visits are rationed so I attended one when It coincided with an existing visit
    Otherwise unlikely to come

  • Profile picture of Doreen Doreen 2 years, 4 months ago:

    As I live in the North East it is unlikely that I would ever attend a talk at Kew. It would be nice if representatives from Kew would do a tour of the country to give talks!
    I regularly attend talks given by local archives,libraries,universities and libraries.

  • Profile picture of Daphne Daphne 2 years, 4 months ago:

    I’m another who would have to travel and stay over so cost plays a big part in attending talks and events however much I’d like too.

  • Profile picture of Mandy Blake - Moderator Mandy Blake – Moderator 2 years, 4 months ago:

    It’s the same for me, I live just that little bit too far away and adding in an overnight stay would be expensive. I think Doreen has made a very good suggestion, that TNA staff give talks elsewhere in the UK. I’m sure they’d be really popular, I’d definitely attend if the distance wasn’t a problem.

  • Profile picture of Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage 2 years, 4 months ago:

    Although Somerset-based happy to come to Kew – timings just need to suit travel from out of London. Sorry to say I’ve never attended a talk or event at the National Archive and I’m not quite sure why except to say I haven’t known about them. I’m clearly not tied into any online alerts for events so I’ll go look on the website and do that now. With respect to topics: any interesting subject would be fine as long as there is a learning component involved in the event/seminar – a sort of ‘how it was done’ element. This could be how the research was done, how the archiving was done, how the recording was done etc etc. It would be useful to be able to attend an event that had, as it were, a CPD benefit for myself or others in our charity. Hope that helps Paul.

  • Profile picture of Jill Cooke Jill Cooke 2 years, 4 months ago:

    First, I live far from Kew and don’t come up to London. But, more importantly, I would need to see the speaker’s words on screen, or have an amanuensis to write it all down, and so I will not – alas – be attending a talk at TNA or an outreach venue. Having been profoundly deaf for over 30 years, I have come to an accommodation with myself as to what is possible, and what is not. Though transcription systems exist, they are expensive; I do not use sign language; and if, at a meeting, I ask whoever is sitting next to me to write down at least the key points, it is very much ‘pot luck’ – some are brilliant, some reluctant.

    Therefore I would like to suggest that talks are made available like podcasts; and that all talks and podcasts are released with the option of subtitles. The wonders of the internet mean that TNA’s reach is now worldwide, and so there may be many people out there who would find it helpful to follow a talk with subtitles – folk whose grasp of English may be shaky, and those like me who simply cannot hear a human voice.

    I have found that communicating via the internet, e.g. in a forum such as this, creates a level playing field. The words are all there on the screen. Fantastic! I do not have to mention my deafness, because it does not impact on what I am doing. And that is wonderful. So, please, can we have subtitles? Thank you.

  • Profile picture of Jacqui Kirk Jacqui Kirk 2 years, 4 months ago:

    I can never make the talks at Kew because I’m usually there on a Saturday to save on train fares. However I do listen to the podcasts regularly. It would be nice if the odd talk was on a Saturday though.

    I often go to talks locally as I belong both to family history and local history groups in the area and even occasionally give the talk! Also there is a literature festival in Warwick twice a year “Warwick Words” which has interesting and history related speakers. The Who Do You Think You are Live exhibition talks were also good last year.

    Cost and travel time are major factors. Most family historians are retired and on a limited budget. I have wanted to attend the talks on India Office records at the British Library but again they are mostly during the week when the cost of an early or midmorning train ticket is too high.

  • Profile picture of Matthew F Matthew F 2 years, 3 months ago:

    Bit late to the party on this conversation but here we go:

    I think cost and travel time are definite factors for me too – I live in London but Kew is quite out of the way for me. I imagine that’s even more of an issue for people outside of London, in that you’d have to get here before even figuring out how to get to Kew.

    Time of the event is also a big factor – I work 9-5 Monday to Friday so I can’t attend morning or afternoon talks without having to take time off, and annual leave (as I’m sure you know!) is a precious commodity!

    Something that would definitely make me more likely to engage with talks would be online content made available after the talk has happened – transcripts, podcasts and videos, and equally the opportunity to provide input into the discussion ahead of the talk (for example, posing questions for speakers online beforehand). That kind of thing would help me to join in with talks even if I couldn’t actually make the event. Forgive me if this is the kind of thing you’re doing already!

    Jacqui – how was WDYTYA Live last year? I’m attending for the first time this year (and exhibiting too, actually!), so interested to hear how it was. Really looking forward to it!

  • Profile picture of Geoffrey Negus Geoffrey Negus 2 years, 1 month ago:

    It’s obviously great that TNA publishes podcasts of talks on its website. But if the speaker uses PowerPoint or another visual aid, please would it be possible for the slides also to be shown on the website? (Listening to Clive Hawkins’s talk on “Britain’s air forces in the First World War, he refers to various classes of document and I think he must be referring to a visual list of them – and also turning away from the mike. It’s not very easy for audio listeners to follow him.)

  • Hi Geoffrey, great suggestion. We do sometimes include a speaker’s slides (for example, this great talk by Dinah Eastop:, but not all the time. It’s definitely something we would like to do more of in the future. I wonder if you have seen my blog post ( about our podcasts and videos? If you have any other ideas about how we could improve what we do, do share them on the blog.

  • Also, you might be interested in our webinar series, starting in the new year. You’ll be able to watch a seminar presented by one of our records experts, then have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers directly from the speaker. Sign up in advance on our website:

  • Profile picture of Jacqui Kirk Jacqui Kirk 2 years, 1 month ago:

    Hi Emma

    Yes I’m definitely interested in your webinar series BUT it doesn’t state what time of day they will be at just the dates.

    I greatly enjoy webinars but most of those so far have been from the US where they appear here at 6pm which is not a good time for uninterrrupted service internet-wise. I am glad that they will be recorded for us to watch later as well.

    However (I have been down this route before with the family history group that I run) some users do not have either the download limit or the broadband capability (or the computer expertise) to be able to stream and watch webinars individually . Will it be possible to download the webinar to watch later? This means that I could download the webinar then play it through the projection system at one of our meetings – providing the NA grants permission of course. When I did this before with Gerry Toop’s video presentation it was a great success although we did have problems with the volume – it was rather quiet and we had to listen hard even though the speakers were at full volume.

    Jacqui Kirk

  • Profile picture of Jacqui Kirk Jacqui Kirk 2 years, 1 month ago:

    Sorry Matthew missed your comment about WDYTlive etc – great you are exhibiting this year. Last year I was there on the Saturday to escort some of my family history group through the wilds of London and to do a stint on the APG stand.

    To be honest if you are visiting without any talks to attend you will have had enough after about 4 hours there. It does get better the more times you visit as you feel more at home – know the layout and more or less what and who to expect. What is great is that it is a place to meet up with far flung friends.

    Expect the food to be variable. (You will be able to take sandwiches and eat them in the exhibitors roped off area for a bit of peace and quiet and can avoid the queues and the looking for somewhere to sit down to eat)

    Check out the exhibitors list to see who will be there. Prepare your questions for the stand members. Before you go sort out what you will dump in the cloakroom and take a bag to collect your freebies in. Keep hydrated as all that talking over the noise does your voice in, sort out where the loos are and pick a landmark to remember to keep yourself oriented as you wander around.

    I am likely to be there on two days this year – the Friday afternoon as I want to take in Chris Paton’s talk on civilian internees in Germany – my apologies Chris for not remembering the title – and probably again on the Saturday although it will mean a crack of dawn start after a late night. My attendance times are dictated by cheap rail tickets as always – oh for a senior citizens railcard and a bus pass!

    See you there


  • Profile picture of Stephanie Stephanie 2 years, 1 month ago:

    Hi Emma

    I’m very pleased you have arranged some webinars and have sent in my request to join in. It’s a really good range of subjects. Just hope my broadband holds up.

    I, too, have had a bit of trouble hearing some of the podcasts on full volume and it was not just my hearing as my son couldn’t hear it either, so I do hope it will be possible to increase the volume.

    Many thanks

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