The National Trust: Mapping Archives

The National Trust is a UK conservation charity, protecting historic places and green spaces, and opening them up for ever, for everyone. The National Trust has recently committed to a new 10-year strategy, part of which is to rethink the way in which we respond to our buildings, collections and outdoor spaces through rigorous academic research. The Trust has developed a KTP with the University of Manchester which will enhance the way in which the National Trust engages with academic researchers at universities across the north. This REAlab project could help to develop the way that the Trust interprets academic research to feed into the new strategy.


The National Trust looks after a wide range of properties, from large mansions to working cotton mills. Many of these places have large, valuable, and significant collections of written archival sources and material culture held on site. Volunteers and property-based staff have done excellent work on researching these collections for many years. However, to date, the National Trust has not been able to bring a sense of academic rigor to the mapping and cataloguing all of these archives, and there is no central strategy or procedures in organising our archival sources. As proper mapping of our archives will help organise and direct future research projects, we are seeking to change this, and hope to work with REAlab to develop and plan archival strategy.  

DESIRED PROJECT OUTCOMES* (i.e. what the project is required to deliver. You will have the opportunity to discuss this in detail with researchers during the training stage).

  • Mapping of current archival sources at a selection of pilot properties (to be decided)
  • Identification of models of best practice in the organisation of private archives
  • Recommendations for practical changes that can be made to the organisation of specific archives at the pilot properties and/or within the Trust more widely
  • Recommendations for strategic changes to the way that the Trust approaches archive management


  • Experience in using historic archives and working with collections.
  • Quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis.
  • Awareness of the strategic aims, practical capacity and challenges facing the National Trust regionally and nationally.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with National Trust staff and volunteers.

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