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The National Archives Labs

Collections on a map

This tool is the first stage in our plan to provide map-based access to our records. It allows you to search for places and to identify records relating to them.

Our first release includes a wide range of images taken from our records, including the Dixon-Scott photographs of Britain (1926 – 1948), the National Coal Board’s collection of  photographs, a selection of images of properties in London owned by the Crown Estate (1878 – 1967) and copies of some of the earliest maps held by The National Archives.

You can also use the map to identify the catalogue references to tithe maps, surrenders of monasteries, 19th century applications for building grants for schools and elementary school digest files (1854 – 1984). So, a search for Chertsey would reveal a copy of a medieval map of Chertsey Abbey, the catalogue entry for the surrender of the Abbey to Henry VIII, two photographs of Chertsey bridge in the 1930s and the catalogue entry for the 1844 tithe map.

To use the tool, select which collections you would like to search, then enter in the name of the place. Finally, set the range – the tool searches for records within a circle centred on the place you have chosen. The larger the range, the more places are included. Click on search and the map of the place you have chosen will be displayed with the symbols for any records or images which relate to that area. Clicking on the symbol will either link directly to the image or to the catalogue entry.

Please let us know what you think.

Comments (23)

  • James McLaren


  • Martin Tolley

    This is a good. Visual searching allows you to browse as well which as find specific items. My hangup with a lot of computer and other indexes for collections of all sorts is that “if you don’t know that it’s there you can’t search for it” (or you don’t know just how to spell Cwmaman you’re lost), and browsing anywhere in sequentially laid out lists is hopelessly inefficient and the first step toward slow and lingering mind rot.
    I understand this is just a try-out, but I found that if I accessed a picture, I was unable to return to the map – I got thrown back to the blog start page. That didn’t happen accessing the NA catalogue route. (Using Firefox).
    Sometimes the information balloon had its top cutoff by the browser window and the link from there wasn’t accessible.
    I’d also like to see some form of inset overview window (like in googlemaps) when searching close up.

    The National Archives reply:

    Hi Martin,

    Thank you for your comments. We’re pleased to hear you liked browsing this visual representation of a selection of our content.

    We suspect the problem you had when accessing images is that you were trying to close the pop-up using the browser’s ‘x’ in the top-right corner of the window. Instead, please click on the ‘x’ in the bottom-right of the pop-up itself (or indeed anywhere within the black border of the pop-up, outside of the image itself). This should close only the pop-up and return you to where you were on the map.

    Where a pop-up contains a lot of information, and some of it is off the screen, please just drag the underlying map itself in order to reposition the entire pop-up to be within view.

    Your suggestion to include an inset overview window to assist when you are zoomed in close is a good one. We shall investigate implementing this.

  • Martin Tolley

    Ah. You mean the tiny wee grey coloured feint cross that’s at the bottom of your pop up picture instead of at the top right (like your info pop-up) where most people would look for it? And as a FF user when something looks like a new tab you generally close it by closing the tab? :) OK I learn. And you do need to have your browser window wide open to see that there’s one there – try the Aberdare “bomb” picture – there’s a heap of white space to the right side and below it that doesn’t appear to have anything useful on it (apart from that tiny wee….) unless your window is well open.
    Good stuff here though, keep it up.

  • john binstead

    after looking for answers about my seafaring
    days, the archives are the answer.

  • Yousaf

    This is very impressive indeed! Are you guys using the premium Google Maps API for this?


    The National Archives reply:

    Hi Yousaf, we’re just using the standard Google Maps API.

  • walter hans muller

    seeking my employment records from the former british Ministry of Pensions and national Insurance in Ottawa Canada where I worked from 1960 to 1964 for pension purposes. a.k.a. John walter Miller

    The National Archives reply:

    We are unable to answer specific records research queries here. However you will find many useful resources in the Records section of The National Archives’ website at

  • Jill Ming

    This is a very useful tool. One problem I had is that the results of a search yielded 4 results but I could only see three markers on the map even when zoomed in (try a 2km search of Birlingham, Worcestershire).

    It would be really useful to list the results under each of the series listed on the left as well so you get another way of locating your search results.

  • Peter Amsden

    Problem is that there is not even a thumb nail to show the image without purchasing. could make searching very expensive.

  • Denise Hobbs

    I am very impressed and excited. I can’t wait to use this.

  • Dianne

    Search worked well, but when I click on any of the results either the page doesn’t load, or I get the TNA “no results” page. Using Google Chrome on Linux.

  • Andy Shepherd

    A very user-friendly tool, which will become even more valuable as more records are digitized and made available through it.

    As a family history researcher with a passion for putting things ‘in historical context’, it is very helpful to be able to browse in this way, to see what records might be available and relevant – particularly those that would otherwise never have occurred to me!

    On a more general note, since I live in France, most of my research has to be done via the Internet – so TNA Community is a welcome discovery for me!

  • Peter Amsden

    On my second visit i do realise that in my haste I jumped to the wrong conclusion. Indeed it does look interesting and I canforsee some considerable expansion on this these. well done.

  • Keith Rookledge

    A really useful way to search an area.

    Please expand this excellent search facility

  • Lisa Greenhalgh

    We have been mapping collections in this style at Cheshire Archives School collection locations are next, and we have located the majority – I sent an enquiry asking if the school location data for Cheshire could be made available to us – but perhaps this has not found its way to the right team?
    We are using google fusion tables – a good solution where data needs updating (and we encourage users to contribute if they can improve the location) – and simple link for our web team to embed.

  • Jill Cooke

    This has the potential to be an excellent tool, because it can speed up research and suggest new lines of enquiry. For instance, I started by keying in ‘Northwood, Isle of Wight’ and it yielded some school files, location photographs, and an 1844 map. I was then able to click on an icon for info and then click the exact reference to be taken to the record on TNA. V good. Incidentally, I had not realised that some school files would be available for this area, so that was an unexpected bonus.

    However, clicking an icon for info did not always work, e.g. the info bubble did not open for one of the school icons. A pity.

    Also, my first choice of location (Northwood) proved to be a case of ‘beginner’s luck’. I entered several more locations for which I know there are some records at TNA but zero results were returned.

    I hope you will continue to work on this application because it could help make the TNA website much more accessible to a novice researcher. (I feel it is the perceived complexity of the website that puts so many people off.)

  • Ken Laing

    Good search tool. I’m interested in tithe maps digitisation and linking apportionments to tithe map plots. Is there an example of this that can be selected and displayed using the tool. Or if not one that is linked to apportionments, simply a tithe map I can display.

    The National Archives reply:

    Thanks for your feedback Ken. Unfortunately we do not have any tithe maps or apportionments accessible via Collections on a Map. If you are interested in digitised tithe maps and apportionments in general, you might like to take a look at the Tracks in Time project at, which used Lottery funding to put the whole set for West Yorkshire online.

  • Sue Harvey

    A very user-friendly way of finding records about a particular place. Excellent!

  • Barbara Schenck

    This seems like a great idea as it can show other potential records for a given vicinity that one may not have considered. How likely is it that you will continue to develop this interface and add records to it? Right now there’s a lot of potential, and not much I’m interested in (Cornwall seems lacking in ‘attached’ records!).

  • John L Smith

    Impressive. An excellent visual search idea

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