The Historical Manuscripts Commission (formally known as the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts) was established by Royal Warrant on 2 April 1869 has been part of the National Archives since 2003. HMC has a long tradition of publishing information on the location and nature of records, highlighting their value in historical research and advising on their care. The activities of the Commission are an integral part of The National Archives and our approach to sector leadership.

They build on the tradition of the Commission, maintaining information about archives and their collections within Discovery, our catalogue. Discovery incorporates data previously made available through the National Register of Archives (NRA), Access to Archives (A2A), the Archon Directory and the Manorial Documents Register (MDR). This is augmented through survey work such as the completed Religious Archives Survey and the Architectural, business and construction records project.

To ensure the long-term accessibility of the content of these resources, they are being incorporated in Discovery. Discovery has been developed in the light of user requirements and feedback. It provides a single point of online access to catalogue and organisational data from across the archive sector.

We work in partnership with archives stakeholders to develop strategies for improving the care of particular types of archives, and to provide information and guidance through our web resources and staff expertise.

The Commission also established itself after 1959 as an inspecting and standard-setting body which approved record repositories and sought to improve levels of archival care and service provision. On the basis of its wide range of knowledge and information gained from surveying and information-gathering, it was also uniquely placed to advise owners on all issues relating to archives and manuscripts in their possession.