The archive code
Important: care for our heritage
Manuscript material, drawings and original architect's plans are unique. Also early printed material including engraved maps and views may be rare or unique, because the rate of survival is poor. Therefore every care must be taken in preserving them for the use of future generations. All record offices and private archives expect users to obey a code of practice:
- No fountain or ball-point pens. Pencils only.
- No smoking, eating or drinking in the areas where material is produced.
- No animals can be brought in.
- Do not run fingers or pencil down the record.
- Do not rest other material on it.
- Photocopying will require permission from a member of staff. In some cases it will not be granted, because of the fragility of the material or difficulty in handling. In that case, it is usually possible to arrange photography. Because of the problems of wear and tear, much heavily-used material, such as census returns, parish registers and tithe maps, is now available on microfilm or microfiche, from which copies can be made.
- Use of tape recorders, microcomputers and cameras will require prior permission. There may be a small charge in certain archives.
- Return documents as received. In collections of millions of documents, a misplaced document is virtually untraceable.
The National Archives provides an illustrated online guide How to handle documents with specific advice on handling different categories of document and image.