Cover art for podcast On the Record at The National Archives

On the Record at The National Archives

42 EpisodesProduced by The National ArchivesWebsite

History is everywhere in popular culture. But the truth is harder to find. On the Record is a podcast by The National Archives of the UK that takes a closer look at the stories you think you know. At The National Archives, we are the guardians of more than 11 million historical government and public… read more

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The 1920s: Fashion and Nightlife

May 12th, 2022

33:05

In this episode, fashion historian Amber Butchart discusses the fashion movements of the 1920s, from rising hemlines to ready-to-wear fashion. Then we tell the story of Kate Meyrick, the Soho Nightclub Queen. Meyrick’s …

The 1920s: Migration and Public Health

April 28th, 2022

33:41

In this episode, we continue our whirlwind tour through the 1920s by introducing you to some of the fascinating people and movements of the era.

We tell the story of two men trying to make a better life in England. …

The 1920s: Beyond the Roar

April 14th, 2022

30:44

In this first episode, historian Kate Williams looks at the era's tensions and shifting values, revealing social progress and a spirit of innovation coexisting with immense poverty and unrest; then we look at the …

Trailer: The 1920s

April 7th, 2022

2:18

In our latest three-part podcast series, we step into the world of 1920s Britain and experience what life was really like, beyond the ‘Roaring …

LGBTQ+ Histories

February 17th, 2022

52:32

In this episode, we bring you four stories that span two hundred years of British history. Two women leave their families to make a new life together in Wales in 1780, a Manchester drag ball in 1880, a secret gathering …

Trailer: LGBTQ+ Histories

February 10th, 2022

2:21

The National Archives’ collections offer a valuable insight into how the government interacted with and viewed LGBTQ+ communities in the past. In …

20th Century Migration: 1962 – A Social Revolution?

December 9th, 2021

33:26

There are over 900 years of immigration records available for research here at The National Archives. Over the next three episodes, we’re exploring the rich history of migration in the 20th century. 

In 1962, the …

20th Century Migration: 1948 - Citizenship and Empire

December 2nd, 2021

36:00

There are over 900 years of immigration records available for research here at The National Archives. Over the next three episodes, we’re exploring the rich history of migration in the 20th century. 

In this episode, …

20th Century Migration: 1914 – A Nation Divided?

November 26th, 2021

35:05

There are over 900 years of immigration records available for research here at The National Archives. Over the next three episodes, we’re exploring the rich history of migration in the 20th century.

This first episode …

Trailer: 20th Century Migration

November 22nd, 2021

2:17

There are over 900 years of immigration records available for research here at The National Archives. In our latest three-part podcast series, we’re exploring the rich history of migration in the 20th century.  

This …

Counting down to the 1921 Census

October 27th, 2021

49:57

In the aftermath of war and pandemic, approximately 8.5 million householders in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man completed …

Trailer: Counting down to the 1921 Census

October 27th, 2021

2:21

In June 1921, approximately 8.5 million householders in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man completed the census. For just about …

Government goes to the movies

August 19th, 2021

1:01:33

In the 1940s, the British government discovered the power of film to inform, promote, and persuade the public, and they created the Central Office of Information to create strategic media campaigns on all kinds of …

Trailer: Government goes to the movies

August 16th, 2021

2:14

In the 1940s, the British government discovered the power of film to inform, promote, and persuade the public, and created the Central Office of Information. In this episode, we’re silencing our phones, dimming the …

Digitally reconstructing Ireland's lost archive

June 24th, 2021

59:01

On 30 June 1922 the Public Record Office of Ireland was destroyed by fire in the opening engagement of the Irish Civil War. Historians have long considered the 700 years of records that the building contained as …

Trailer: Digitally Reconstructing Ireland’s Lost Archive

June 21st, 2021

2:17

On 30 June 1922 the Public Record Office of Ireland was destroyed by fire in the opening engagement of the Irish Civil War. Historians have long considered the 700 years of records that the building contained as …

Trials: Evidence of the Past

May 6th, 2021

30:57

In the final episode of this series on our most intriguing and significant trial records, we’re taking a closer look at the evidence. First, we examine pieces of courtroom evidence like a red suit seized from …

Trials: Murder on the High Seas and Trial by Jury

April 22nd, 2021

32:24

In the second episode in our mini-series on trial records, we look at the long and colourful history of trial by jury. First, we hear about the …

Trials: Ordeal and Combat

April 8th, 2021

34:04

In the first installment of a three-part series on our trial records, we’re examining the history of trials by ordeal and combat. This episode has witch trials, defamation lawsuits from accused witches, myth-busting, …

Trailer: Trials

April 6th, 2021

2:02

In our latest three-part podcast series, we are exploring stories from our collection which tell the history of trials, from witch trials and trial …

Public Health Crises: Exploring Britain’s Medical History

February 18th, 2021

1:02:02

Over the last 600 years, Britain has faced its fair share of public health crises. In this episode, we are investigating four deadly pandemics and …

Trailer: Public Health Crises: Exploring Britain’s Medical History

February 15th, 2021

1:57

Over the centuries, Britain has faced its fair share of public health crises and recently we have seen an increase in interest in our records about them. As we near the one year mark since the first UK lockdown due to …

Victorian Cats, Medieval Hospitals, and Frontline Nurses

November 26th, 2020

41:06

Illustrator Louis Wain changed the way we think about cats and dedicated his life to improving their welfare. Richard Whittington is the real man behind the story of Dick Whittington and his Cat, and his 15th century …

Smugglers, Spies and Dragon Slayers

November 12th, 2020

44:32

A British spy named Pearl jumps from a plane under cover of night. A Thai shopkeeper named Boonpong decides to risk everything for strangers from the other side of the world. A knight named George defies a Roman Emperor …

Civil Rights & Public Health

October 29th, 2020

39:36

In 1921, W.E.B. Du Bois (the African American thinker and NAACP co-founder) sent a letter to Winston Churchill with a rather interesting request. A closer look at this letter illuminates the Pan-African and …

Trailer: Heroic Deeds

October 22nd, 2020

2:43

In this three-part series we’re exploring stories in our collection with the theme of heroic deeds.

As our long-time listeners will know, we like to …

Untold Battle of Britain

September 15th, 2020

43:36

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” That iconic Churchill line has framed our remembrance of the Battle of Britain for 80 years. But it’s also been said that the few were …

Trailer: Untold Battle of Britain

September 8th, 2020

2:10

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain we have joined forces with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Air Force Museum to share some lesser-known stories of Britain’s great defence of our skies.

Refugee Stories

June 15th, 2020

55:15

Refugee Week is an annual event that celebrates the contributions of refugees to Britain. Many refugee stories have found their way onto our repository shelves. In this special episode, we’re sharing just a few of them. …

Trailer: Refugee Stories

June 11th, 2020

1:52

To mark Refugee Week we are sharing just a few refugee stories from our vast collection. In a special episode we will also be going beyond the …

Sacrifices for Love

May 21st, 2020

40:09

In 1936, Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England to be with the woman he loved. It’s widely considered to be one of the greatest love stories of the 20th century. But is it really? A century earlier, an elderly …

Love Divided

May 7th, 2020

35:22

In 1588, Queen Elizabeth received a letter from her friend the Earl of Leicester just a few days before he died. She kept the letter by her bed for the next 15 years. In 1919, a Jamaican sailor named James Gillespie was …

Disappointed and Forbidden Love

April 23rd, 2020

38:58

A love struck medieval clerk writing out romantic lyrics as he daydreams, a gay man in the 1930s who tears up a letter to his lover to hide it from …

Series 3 Trailer: Love

April 19th, 2020

2:14

With Love. In our latest mini-series we’re re-reading famous love letters preserved in our archives and reading between the lines of less obviously romantic records to discover the love-stories of everyday people from …

Resist: Black Power in the Courtroom

January 29th, 2020

34:36

In 1965, Britain passed the Race Relations Act, which made it illegal to refuse service on the basis of race. To some, it looked like progress, while some anti-racist activists were critical. In this episode, we’re …

Reform: Violence and the Struggle for Suffrage

January 22nd, 2020

30:53

The campaign for women’s suffrage is often characterised by its militant factions and leaders like Emmeline Pankhurst who used bombs and destruction of property to get their message across. That characterisation is …

Revolt: The Story of England’s First Protest

January 15th, 2020

31:08

In 1990, a march in protest of the government’s poll tax turned violent as police and marchers clashed. The Poll Tax Riots became one of the most …

Series 2 Trailer: Protest

January 10th, 2020

2:05

What would you do to change the status quo? In our newest three-part series we're sharing stories of protest. Using the records in our archive, we've …

Double Agents and Double Standards

May 16th, 2019

1:04:54

The Cambridge Five are perhaps the most infamous spy ring of the 20th century. They worked their way into the upper ranks of British Intelligence in order to spy for the Soviets, betraying their country and causing the …

Lawrence and Bell

May 9th, 2019

43:33

The exploits of T.E. Lawrence are legendary. Thanks to the famous film Lawrence of Arabia, millions around the world know about his time spying and fighting in the Middle East during the First World War...or at least …

Archetype of a Spy

May 1st, 2019

35:41

Right now, as you read this description, a spy is gathering intelligence, reading classified information, and hiding in plain sight. But what do spies actually look like? What do they do? What motivates them to enter …

S01 Trailer: Spies

April 9th, 2019

2:17

History is everywhere in our popular culture. But the truth is harder to find.

On the Record is a podcast by The National Archives that takes a …

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