ID: 109

THORPE, Gary; BAUM, Catt


Gary was a professional actor for 7 years until he joined The National Archives in 2002. Since 2008 he has been involved with the highly successful Licensing programme and currently manages all digitisation at TNA with third party publishers.


2011-13 Conservation Manager (Digitisation Support) - The National Archives, UK

2009-11 Digitisation Support Conservator - The National Archives, UK

2008-9 Parchment Conservation Intern - Trinity College, Dublin

2007-8 Conservation Intern - The British Library

2007 Conservator - The Wellcome Library

2006-7 Book Conservation Masters Programme, Camberwell College of Arts

2005-6 Paper Conservation Postgraduate Diploma, Camberwell College of Arts, London

2000-6 Freelance make-up artist

1995-2000 Producer/Production Manager - Music Videos, short films


Protect and Enable: Opening up The National Archives

Brief summary:

Cultural industries require access to The National Archives' content for commercial and non-commercial purposes. TNA collaborates with publishers, scanning companies, funding bodies, record specialists and many others to provide online access for worldwide audiences to its varied collections while prioritising the preservation of the documents.


The National Archives has been imaging its collections for thirty years, and digitising them since 2001.  The growth of digitisation over this time has demanded a cultural shift within the organisation and an internal shift from guardian to enabler to meet the growing and changing demands of online users and partners. We will talk about these changes and how our Licensing and Conservation teams have become flexible to respond and adapt. We have redesigned and divided our conservation functions to meet these demands. Our talk will focus on this and on how our collaborations with external partners, commercial scanning companies, funding bodies and internal stakeholders ensure the end product meets everyone's needs while ensuring that our duty of care to our collections remains paramount. We will cover a brief history of digitisation at TNA before discussing how demand has changed and how we have responded. The two speakers will cover their own areas of expertise: Catt Baum will explain our innovative conservation arrangements, our duty of care and how we engage our stakeholders and tackle tensions between commercial needs and conservation requirements; and Gary Thorpe will describe our approaches to partnerships, our flexibility in providing access to information for differing audience requirements, and how this differs for academic and genealogical researchers. Case studies will include projects involving crowd-sourcing, our World War One programme and how some of these records provide content fitting the needs of genealogists, social, political, military and other historians, our involvement in the Looted Art web portal and many others.

Scientific contribution:

Our conservation practices and treatments need to meet the demands of commercial projects targets whilst ensuring we adhere to our professional best practice. Understanding the material science of our collection is crucial to ensuring we select appropriate repair materials and techniques. Quicker methods may exist but it is more important that our methods suit the needs of our collections. 


web-content, digitisation, conservation, partnerships.