Policy statements

Policy statements regarding visiting and accessing the Archive of the Irish in Britain


Acquisition policy

Due to the paucity of research up until recently on the subject of the Irish in Britain, the policy of the Archive since its inception in 1984 has been to collect as much information about the subject as possible in whatever form, be it academic articles, video and audio tapes, community organisations' documentation or ephemeral materials. With the inception of the development programme funded by the Smurfit Foundation in 2000, it has been possible to significantly increase the number of overall holdings in the Archive due to greater public awareness of the Archive's existence and to make the Archive as geographically representative as possible.

The majority of the collections in the archive originate from London and the south-east. This is due to the high proportion of Irish community organisations based in and around the capital but also due to the original birthplace of the archive. Whilst the aim of the Archive is to be the main repository for primary source documents within London and the south-east (which accounts for 25 per cent of the overall population of the Irish in Britain), it is not our aim to accumulate primary source materials on the Irish outside of London and the south-east in any great quantity, other than the occasional representative acquisition.

There are a number of areas, which are not currently well represented in the collections. As a result, acquisition initiatives will concentrate on the following areas:

  • The Gaelic Athletic Association
  • Irish County Associations
  • The Irish in the construction industry and nursing
  • Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann and Irish dance schools
  • The Catholic church and associated organisations
  • The Protestant Irish community

Access and dissemination policy

The Archive of the Irish in Britain is housed at the Islington campus of London Metropolitan University. Access to the archive is by appointment through the Irish Studies Centre and can be booked for either an afternoon or morning or for a full day. Due to limited space it is only possible to accommodate one visitor at any time.

All visitors are asked to state the nature of their research and their research status (ie institutional, journalistic, private etc) and to complete a User Record Form before leaving the Archive. First-time users are given a brief overview of the collections and asked to read and adhere to the Guidelines for Use of the Archive (eg no bags or coats can be taken into the archive) and advised about appropriate collections according to the nature of their research. The Irish Studies Centre is keen to ensure that users get the most out of their visit and staff can be consulted for further information and referrals to other agencies. We regularly review our services and consult our users to ensure that we continue to meet their needs.

It is a important aim of the Archive of the Irish in Britain to enhance accessibility to its collections through means other than personal visits. The creation of this website and the ongoing development of an online catalogue are the primary means of doing this. Over the next few years users will be able to consult comprehensive records of the Archives holdings via the internet and through a forthcoming programme of digitization, access a selection of individual records online. In addition to this, an online interactive exhibition on Irish Migration to Britain as well as online audio and video is planned.

By providing access to its collections, the Archive of the Irish in Britain and London Metropolitan University do not endorse any particular political or commercial initiatives. We welcome comments and suggestions as to how we might be able to improve our service but regret we are unable to provide services for individuals researching their family histories. We endeavour to credit copyright owners where possible and are keen to hear from organisations or individuals whose work is not properly identified.

In the next few years, the Archive of the Irish in Britain aims to become not just an indispensable historical resource, but an online hub for access to other key archival and research services on the Irish worldwide.

Preservation and storage policy

The Archive of the Irish in Britain will seek to ensure appropriate and secure accommodation and preservation for all its holdings, conforming where practicable to national archival standards and management procedures and with due reference to its other policies.

In June 2003, the Archive of the Irish in Britain acquired dedicated accommodation within the University enabling it for the first time to install archival shelving, and a small study and exhibition space. It has also enabled the Archive to significantly expand its collections and provide better accessibility and preservation standards. The aim of the Archive is to acquire additional accommodation in coming years in order to further these aims.

An ongoing programme of preservation of the Archive's 'Special Collections' to BS5454 standards will ensure that these unique records are secured and maintained for many years to come. All other records will be preserved to the highest standards achievable within available time and resources. The schedule of preservation is regularly reviewed in the light of new acquisitions.

The Archive of the Irish in Britain welcomes offers of new materials. If you have materials you would like to donate, please contact: irishinbritainarchive@londonmet.ac.uk