Digital Microfilm at TNA – changes coming – Army Lists as example

Digital Microfilm at TNA, currently Free, but changes are coming

Given my last post about the indexing of WWI war diaries, I was in this post going to explain how to download the war diaries that had already been scanned and were available as part of The National Archives website. I had downloaded war diaries in October 2013, but I can’t do it now. I thus spent the week learning a little more about what is happening regarding digital images at TNA.

Firstly, I learned that the war diaries are in the process of being digitized at a higher quality. They will then be repackaged, improved and put online again. I suspect with a different fee structure.

I also learned by reading the minutes of the TNA User Advisory Group that changes are coming to the Digital Microfilm currently available online for free. It is the Army Lists in WO 65 that are specifically mentioned in the minutes. I confirmed by contacting a committee member that changes are coming. Specifically WO 65 will be removed, repackaged and put online for a fee. Nothing was disclosed about what the repackaging what look like, what the fee would be, or when this would occur. It was suggested that if I wanted copies of the Army Lists for free that I should do it soon.

To get to the complete list of Digital Microfilm click here. This will take you to a description page and a long list (getting shorter) of digital microfilm that you can download free from a variety of record groups. Scroll to WO 65 – Printed Annual Army Lists. The published army lists begin here in 1754 with WO 65-1 and end chronologically with 1878-79 WO65/163. However, at the end of the chronological lists are an additional five films of British American Half Pay lists and Foreign Corps. What is different about these printed Army Lists is that they are the ones that were actually used by the War Office. These volumes are annotated, often indicating changes for you to look for in the following year.

The published annual Army Lists is often the first primary source you will use to reconstruct the promotions for any Army Officer.  It is thus a valuable source. I am not suggesting that you download every volume available. These can be very big files. What I am suggesting is that you may want to consider downloading the volumes for any specific period in which your ancestor/s may have served. In addition to that I am also downloading sample volumes from other periods so if I later find or suspect another family connection I can dip into the lists for free. I understand that there will be a charge in the future.

Have a look at the rest of the digital microfilms to see what others may be of interest to you and get them now. Some of them are fully indexed in the Discovery catalog – WO 76 – Records of Officers Services. As an outsider this would be another obvious one for a commercial partner to index, slice and dice and of course then charge you to access the record.

Have a look at the Digital Microfilms, which are currently free and see what might be beneficial to your research.

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