Audrey Collins


My job is Records Specialist - Family History in the Advice and Records Knowledge department. I worked as a freelance researcher for 15 years before joining The National Archives in 2002, and I have written extensively on family history subjects. I have also spoken at conferences and events both at home and overseas, and my research interests include the history and development of the General Register Office, retail history and the researching newspapers and periodicals. In recent years I have become particularly interested in the application of technology and the use of online resources in genealogy.

Podcasts by Audrey Collins

  • A screenshot of the Discovery catalogue.

    Webinar: Using Discovery for family history

    The Discovery webinar was delivered on 30 September 2016 by Audrey Collins. Audrey is a records specialist on family history records. She delivers conferences on TNA’s family history record collection around the world and has delivered this talk on many…

  • Webinar: Using the 1939 Register, recording the UK population before the war

    The preparations had been made well in advance. Now Britain was at war, and as the uniformed army prepared to face the enemy, a civilian army was mobilised at home. National Registration Officers, registrars, and 65,000 enumerators set about the…

  • 1939-register

    Using the 1939 Register: Recording the UK population before the war

    The preparations had been made well in advance. Now Britain was at war, and as the uniformed army prepared to face the enemy, a civilian army was mobilised at home. National Registration Officers, registrars, and 65,000 enumerators set about the…

  • Chesham War Memorial, Buckinghamshire

    Putting it all together: using archives to discover your community’s involvement in the First World War

    The names of the First World War dead are there for all to see, on war memorials all over the country. Many individuals and groups are researching the stories behind the names, but what about delving even deeper? There is…

  • HMSO, Underwood Street, interior of office, 1916-1917 (catalogue reference STAT 20/391)

    The civil service in the First World War

    The First World War affected every sector of society, as the nation’s resources were harnessed for the war effort. Like other employers, the civil service lost staff to the armed forces and had to replace them while they were away.…

  • Old Somerset House (catalogue reference WORK 30/265 (1 of 2))

    Early civil registration

    Everyone researching 19th century English or Welsh ancestors is familiar with birth, marriage and death certificates, but how much thought do we give to the origins of the General Register Office which was created to look after these records? Not…

  • INF 3/1142

    Scandals in the family

    This talk explores the deeds and misdeeds of one family, using documents in The National Archives and elsewhere. The tale involves deception, divorce, and the deliberate destruction of official records. Although the main narrative concerns one man, Captain George Boynton,…

  • White Star Line poster, 1884 (catalogue ref: COPY 1/66 (187))

    There and back again: going away doesn’t mean staying away

    It is easy to think of emigration as a one-way process, but not everyone who went to live in another country stayed there permanently. As more and more records are indexed online, you may find family members in unexpected places,…

  • COPY1-442(ii)-Bank-of-England,-1899

    The Will Forgeries: a forgotten sensation

    These infamous crimes were headline news when they came to trial at the Old Bailey in the 1840s, and remained in the public eye for many years after, but they are now largely forgotten. They were the work of an…

  • Photograph:Battle between the frigates HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake off Boston during the War of 1812; detail of a lithograph by J.C. Schetky.

    The War of 1812: from the British side

    The War of 1812 features prominently in the history of the United States, especially in this bi-centenary year. But it is much less well-known in the UK, overshadowed by events closer to home. In the US, the Federation of Genealogical…

  • RG27-8 Census 1911(Red Schedule front)

    Behind the scenes: two centuries of census-taking

    The census has been described as a ‘snapshot in time’, recording the nation as it stands at midnight on one Sunday every ten years. But the preparation for each census started years before each census date, and the collating and…

  • ho107-1478-census-1851-queen-victoria-entry

    Counting the people

    Census returns are among the most popular records used by family historians and other researchers, but many of us give little thought as to what went on behind the scenes every time a census was taken. This talk explores the…

  • copy1-474-f66-mr-dearle-at-the-door-of-his-shop-on-derby-day-1904

    Shop workers: tracing your retail ancestors

    We all go shopping, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and many of us have also worked in shops. It was the same for our ancestors, and although the records may not always be easy to find, they are out…

  • copy1-29-214-gravediggers-at-the-grave-of-john-mitchell-ireland-1875

    Burial clubs – the unfriendly societies

    Friendly Societies were popular in the 19th Century, and were regulated by law.  Audrey Collins reveals how, surprisingly, burial clubs, which offered a form of life insurance, didn’t always fall into this category. And they provided many incentives to commit…

  • copy1-65-pullars-dye-works-perth-1884

    Tracing Scottish ancestors

    Holding records for Scotland from the union in 1707, The National Archives holds documents on many of our Scottish ancestors. Find out how to go about discovering them in this talk by Audrey Collins.

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