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Records Acquisition and Description Division

The work of Records Acquisition and Description Division is primarily focused on the acquisition of archives and the preparation of related finding aids (catalogues) to facilitate access to archives acquired.


As a division within the National Archives, the activities of RADD entail working to ensure the preservation of the archival records of Departments of State – including the courts and a range of other central government organisations – by identifying and selecting records of permanent value and managing their transfer to the custody of the National Archives. RADD also facilitates the disposal of any records no longer required to meet administrative needs or archival preservation criteria.


RADD works to ensure that records transferred to the National Archives are ultimately made available for public inspection and research use, subject to any restrictions specified by law. Each year, thousands of official documents are transferred to the National Archives by Government and are made available for use by members of the public. Although the records transferred are predominantly paper files, transferred material includes bound volumes, photographs, films, sound recordings, maps, plans and drawings. A small portion of records received are in electronic format and these are preserved by our in-house Electronic Records Unit (ERU).


RADD also provides advice and guidelines to public service bodies on a range of matters relating to the management of records under their control and provides guidelines for Government Departments and the courts on the transfer of records to the National Archives.


In addition to preserving the archival records of Government Departments in conformity with its legal mandate, the National Archives also takes the archives of private institutions, organisations and individuals into its custody. In acquiring private archives, the National Archives seeks to complement archives of official origin while also securing the preservation of records that document the origins and historical evolution of the Irish State, and its economic and social life.


The National Archives will also accept archival material in instances where there is no official place of custody in order to secure it from destruction. Through the medium of its Business Records Survey, an attempt is made to rescue records of business enterprises that are in danger of destruction. Archives of private origin are accepted either as donations, where the ownership of the material is transferred to the National Archives, or as deposits, where ownership of the material remains with the depositor.


Archival records acquired by the National Archives must be fully processed to prepare finding aids (catalogues and indexes) before they can be made available for public consultation and research use. This is a time-consuming process. The work of RADD concentrates on the preparation of finding aids conforming to the International Standard on Archival Description, ISAD(G) that can be made available in our Reading Room and via our website.


For queries regarding the work of this Division, please contact