Preservation news from the National Archives in the UK -- Digital fridge wins Pilgrim Trust Preservation Award

Loyd Grossman announced an award on the 22nd June, 2004, for an innovative "giant fridge", which keeps electronic documents 'fresh' for future generations.

The award went to The National Archives in Kew, whose Digital Archive is described by its Head of Archiving Services, David Ryan, as being "like a giant fridge for digital records, keeping them 'fresh' by preventing digital decay." 

In winning the prestigious Pilgrim Trust Preservation Award - which recognizes innovation in the preservation of digital material - The National Archives beat off stiff international competition from the National Library of New Zealand and the Universities of Leeds and Michigan.  The judging panel praised The National Archives in adapting from dealing with paper records to responding positively to the challenge of dealing with digital records.  

Loyd Grossman, who chairs the Digital Preservation Coalition, said: 'In the two years since I helped to launch the Digital Preservation Coalition, it is reassuring to see how much things have progressed'. He added: 'History will judge us very harshly if we are unable to overcome the obstacles to preserving access to our burgeoning digital cultural heritage so we need to encourage and reward those who are working to secure it'.

David Ryan, Head of Archive Services at The National Archives, added:

'We are delighted that our innovation in the field of digital preservation has been recognized.  The Digital Archive can hold up to 100 terabytes of data, which is the equivalent of 1.5 billion pages of text, enough to stretch from the earth to the moon.' 
Notes to Editors: 

*       If you would like to interview someone, digital images or further information please contact Siobhan Wakely at The National Archives Press Office on 020 8392 5277 or e-mail [log in to unmask]

*       Electronic records from public enquiries like the Victoria Climbié Inquiry and websites like the Number 10 Downing Street site can be accessed free on the Digital Archive.  New digital records are being added to the archive on a regular basis. The digital archive can be viewed at The National Archives in Kew.

*       In 2003 The National Archives also launched a Web Archive to preserve government websites as historic documents.  Its Web Archive currently stores over 50 government websites, including those of the Hutton Inquiry, no 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.  The archive can be accessed on and is free to use.

*       The National Archives has created a new free online data store of software file format information:  - PRONOM.  The File Format Registry provides vital information for anyone who needs to preserve electronic records over the long term and aims to help with the problem of software obsolescence.  It is a reliable, sustained repository and will allow users to search a rapidly-growing database of over 250 software products such as Microsoft Word, Excel and a wide range of Adobe software plus 550 file formats and 100 manufacturers.  PRONOM can be freely accessed on

*       A new DVD version of the 1986 BBC Domesday Project is now available to view free in the library at The National Archives.  "Domesday Community", was developed by an independent enthusiast, Adrian Pearce, with the backing of The National Archives and the BBC.  It marks a significant turning point for the 1986 Domesday (produced by the BBC to commemorate the 900th anniversary of Domesday Book) whose contents are often believed to have been lost.

*       The National Archives has one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1000 years of British history, from Domesday Book to newly released government papers.   The free museum and research rooms in Kew, west London, are open to the public 6 days a week.  

*       For press enquiries please contact Siobhan Wakely at The National Archives Press Office on 020 8392 5277 or e-mail [log in to unmask]