Monday, 2 September 2013

Gloves off at the National Archives

You know how the great and the good often give the impression that you have to wear white cotton gloves when handling archive materials - especially when materials are being handled on TV programmes?! Well, forget all that from now on, at least in the National Archives at Kew!

A blog post by Hannah Clare explains how from now on, TNA will no longer require its staff to wear white gloves when handling archival material for filming purposes. The reason? You can do more damage to a document wearing white gloves than without them.

Read the full post at

Do you agree with TNA's decision? Do let me know in the comments section!


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My Scottish land and church records ebooks are available at, whilst my next Pharos Scottish course, Scottish Research Online, starts Sep 4th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!


  1. I'm pleased to hear this. I've never been asked to wear gloves, although I have been offered them so my hands don't get dirty! It does however annoy me no end when I see them being used on TV for no other reason than dramatic effect.

  2. I couldn't agree more Emma! I was once asked to wear them at NRS to read a kirk session register which was officially away for conservation, but which I managed on a second attempt to get access to - only to discover there was seemingly nothing wrong with it (another rant for another day! lol). It was an absolute pain in the posterior to use the book wearing them - burn all the white gloves I say - grrrr!!!!!!

  3. I am a fan of gloves but MY gloves which I buy for 50p a pair from the local record office are light stretchy unbleached cotton stockinette ones which are really great for protecting me from the documents and vice versa.

    I use them when handling old vellum and parchment individual documents to protect me from sometimes hundreds of years of dirt, to protect me from red leather dust, and when I'm handling photos (when I use a clean pair).

    I don't use them for handling paper unless they are individual sheets which have been strengthened and certainly not when turning pages in a volume although I do regret this when consulting bound newspaper volumes as you get absolutely filthy. And no way would you use them on something so flimsy as a war diary.

    The white gloves they use at the National Archives are really clumsy things and never fit properly. I support their decision to stop using them on the TV and welcome the move to educate people in how to take care of documents.

    But thanks for reminding me to give my gloves a wash - delicate handwash only no biological detergent residue to transfer to the documents - before I'm off to try out the new Birmingham Library and Archives.