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The National Archives Podcast Series

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Listen to talks, lectures and other events presented by The National Archives of the United Kingdom.

Listen to talks, lectures and other events presented by The National Archives of the United Kingdom.
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Listen to talks, lectures and other events presented by The National Archives of the United Kingdom.




The personal story of Holocaust survivor John Dobai

John Dobai was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1934. To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, John delivered a talk at The National Archives on 25 January 2019 about his personal story and the plight of Hungarian Jews.


Big Ideas Series: Entity disambiguation in digital cultural heritage

To enable people to explore a digital collection, the platform that hosts that collection needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the information it is presenting. However, the level and quality of assistance that can be provided to a user by a computer is largely dependent on the amount of information that the system has about the collection. While such information can be provided by a process of manually tagging and annotating archive contents, this can be expensive, time-consuming...


Big Ideas Series: The role of archives in addressing refugee crises

This presentation provides an overview of a project called ‘Records and ICT at the Boundaries of the State: Refugee Needs, Rights and Uses’ which looks at the ways in which archivists in affected countries might use digital systems design to identify, protect and certify the records of refugees. It’s presented by Anne Gilliland (UCLA Center for Information as Evidence, University of California) and James Lowry (Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies, University of...


The Annual Digital Lecture: Semantic Capital: what it is and how to protect it

In this talk Luciano Floridi presents new research on ‘semantic capital’, which he defines as the capital of ideas, knowledge, meaning and culture, and how it can be protected and fostered by the digital. What may digital ethics do to ensure its care, protection, and development? Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, where he directs the Digital Ethics Lab (DELab) of the Oxford Internet Institute. He is also Faculty Fellow of the...


Big Ideas Series: Archives and Linked Data

Is linked data an appropriate technology for implementing an archive’s catalogue? Dr Jean-Luc Cochard from the Swiss Federal Archives presents the results of two studies conducted to explore the potential of linked data in supporting archival information systems. The Big Ideas talks series is supported by the Friends of The National Archives.


West Africa and the First World War

The First World War had a great impact on West Africa, as Britain ordered the invasion of German colonies in Cameroon and Togoland, using its own colonies as base. The West African Frontier Force, drawn from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Gambia played a key role in the campaign. War had also had a great impact on the civilian population, as the British drew off workers and resources. How did African soldiers experience the campaign, and what did the war mean for West African societies...


Big Ideas Series: Datafication, Distribution and the Future of Archival Science in the Age of Homo Deus

Victoria Lemieux examines how we can ensure and establish authenticity in a world of increasing datafication of records. Where and how do we create, find and preserve records and the archives in an increasingly distributed world? Will the preservation of human history and human collective memory be the main concern of archival science in the age of AI, robotics and, possibly, post-humanity as we know it? Dr. Victoria Lemieux is an Associate Professor of Archival Science at the University of...


UFO files at The National Archives

Originally set up at the request of Winston Churchill, the Ministry of Defence’s UFO Desk ran for over 60 years, collating mysterious sightings and records of strange objects in the sky. In this talk, Dr David Clarke, Principal Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, discusses the remarkable stories behind some of the images from his book, ‘UFO Drawings from The National Archives’.


Suffrage 100: Did militancy help or hinder the fight for the franchise?

By 1912, militancy associated with the Suffragette movement hit its peak, with regular arson attacks, window-smashing campaigns and targeting of MP’s houses. In retrospect, these tactics are often what the movement is famed for. But did they help or hinder the cause? Hear from Dr. Fern Riddell (BBC’s Suffragettes Forever!) and Professor Krista Cowman (University of Lincoln). Due to technical issues, we unfortunately were not able to capture Elizabeth Crawford’s participation in this...


Big Ideas Series: Artistic Practice and the Archive

In this seminar, Professor Andrew Prescott explores the ways in which artistic practice can help us re-imagine the archive and the contents of the collections they hold. Drawing on the work of different contemporary artists, Professor Prescott argues that new technologies enable us to rethink the shape, structure, and character of the records we collect. Professor Andrew Prescott is Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Glasgow and Theme Leader Fellow for the Arts and...


Digital Archives of the Future

To mark forty years since The National Archives moved to Kew, our digital director John Sheridan discusses the challenges that archives will face in the future. John is currently leading efforts to transfer our digital offer to become an archive that is digital by instinct and design.


Reformation on the Record: Suzannah Lipscomb on Henry VIII and the break with Rome

Reformation on the Record was a two-day conference which brought together research using original records of Church and State from our collection to explore this period of religious, social and economic turmoil. In this talk, historian, broadcaster and award-winning academic Dr Suzannah Lipscomb explores one of the fundamental turning points of the 16th century Reformation: Henry VIII's separation from the Roman Catholic Church.


Reformation on the Record: Richard Rex's keynote address

Reformation on the Record was a two-day conference which brought together research using original records of Church and State from our collection to explore this period of religious, social and economic turmoil. In this talk, Professor Richard Rex - a Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, where he is Director of Studies in Theological and Religious Studies - delivers the keynote address on 'The Reformation as Disruption'.


Big Ideas Series: In Their Own Write: Welfare, Discipline and Pauper Agency in the Nineteenth Century

In this seminar, Dr Paul Carter introduces his new research project which he is undertaking in collaboration with Professor Steven King, University of Leicester, after receiving a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Paul examines the correspondence between paupers and the state, focussing on the nature of complaints in the context of welfare, and the importance of Victorian records management in producing a history 'from below'. Dr Paul Carter is the Principal Records...


Big Ideas Series: Surfacing the Page

This Big Ideas seminar consists of three short presentations exploring the theme 'surfacing the page'. In the first talk, Professor Maryanne Dever looks at how the presence of digital technologies for the reproduction and circulation of archival artefacts have placed questions of materiality at the centre of how we value analogue originals. New debates around the materiality of the archived page are pushing us away from focusing simply on physical properties of the page and toward a...


Sylvia Pankhurst: suffragette, socialist and ‘scourge of the empire’

From militant suffragette at the beginning of the 20th century to campaigner against colonialism in Africa after the Second World War, Sylvia Pankhurst dedicated her life to fighting oppression and injustice. Katherine Connelly will examine Pankhurst's role at the forefront…


Black Power and the state

The late 1960s and early 1970s witnessed the flourishing of Black Power, a movement of major global impact. In Britain, black radical campaigns were monitored by Special Branch, MI5, the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Home Office, in an attempt to frustrate and ultimately demobilise the movement. In this talk, Robin Bunce will use sources from our collection to reconstruct the state's campaign against black radicals in the UK, from the trial of Malcolm X in 1967, through the...


Security Service file release November 2017

Professor Christopher Andrew, formerly official historian of MI5 and author of 'The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5', introduces key files from the release of Security Service files to The National Archives in November 2017.


Big Ideas Series: Setting the Record Straight for the Rights of the Child

In this Big Ideas seminar, Professor Sue McKemmish and Dr Joanne Evans from Monash University discuss their recent work on answering record-keeping and archival needs for members of society who have experienced out-of-home care. They are joined by Professor Elizabeth Shepherd, from the Department of Information Studies at UCL, who is speaking on 'Navigating the Information Rights Ecology: A UK Perspective'.


'Step Child': a play about the surveillance of First World War Indian dissenters

The British Government promises that all British subjects are equal before the law. But when America begins blocking the growing number of Indian Sikhs seeking to enter the US reneging on an Anglo-American treaty, will the British step in? A British spy and his wealthy Parsi informant discuss the potential revolutionary ramifications if the British do not. This podcast is one of five short plays produced in response to documents held at The National Archives relating to the experiences of...