Metadata

Metadata Structure

The primary source material has been indexed with additional metadata to supplement The National Archives’ catalogue data. The additional metadata fields, which include conflict, people, and keywords, are designed to aid students and researchers to identify documents of relevancy to their research, to draw links between documents, and to browse and search according to categories such as theme and region. 

Each of the nine series represented in Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War consists of a number of individual files. Some of these files also contain discreet individual documents. There are consequently two levels of metadata within the resource: file level and document level.

Files within the following series contain multiple, discreet documents, as listed on the table of contents pages contained within the files:

  • CAB 56
  • CAB 81
  • CAB 158
  • CAB 159
  • CAB 176

The documents within each of these files have been indexed individually. Users can review metadata associated with the entire file at file level, and metadata associated with each individual document at document level.

Files in the following series have no table of contents pages and have been treated as single documents:

  • FO 1093
  • HW 1
  • CAB 301
  • CAB 163

For these series, the document level metadata fields have been populated with metadata applicable to the entire file, and users can therefore review metadata associated with the entire file at both file and document level.

Metadata Fields

The core metadata fields derived from The National Archives catalogue and table of contents within the files are:

  • File Title
  • Reference
  • Date
  • Government Department
  • File Accession Date
  • Document Title

The choice of additional metadata fields to supplement this core data was finalized in consultation with focus groups composed of academics and librarians.

At file level, the following additional metadata fields have been indexed:

  • Description
  • Notes

At document level, the following additional metadata fields have been indexed:

  • Conflict
  • Document Type
  • Themes
  • Regions
  • Countries
  • Organisations
  • People
  • Keywords
  • Notes

Fields for which editorial decisions had to be made to define or restrict the data populated in the fields are explained below.

Metadata Field: Themes

In consultation with the Editorial Board, ten key themes were identified by which the documents in the resource could be categorized and described.

Each document has been assigned at least one theme from the following list:

  • British Domestic Security
  • Foreign Policy and International Relations
  • Intelligence Funding and Finances
  • Intelligence Gathering and Surveillance
  • Intelligence Operations
  • Intelligence Organisation and Administration
  • Military Intelligence and Operations
  • Propaganda, Censorship and Psychological Warfare
  • Signals Intelligence and Code-breaking
  • Weapons Technology and Nuclear Warfare

Metadata Field: Countries and Regions

Each document has been indexed with the countries that are mentioned within it. The display name within the ‘Country’ metadata field is a precise replication of the country name as it appears in the document. Therefore, countries which changed names or were known by different names throughout the period 1873 to 1953 will be indexed in multiple ways across documents. For example, Russia may be referred to in different documents as Russia, the Soviet Union, or the USSR.

Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War includes synonym search functionality; therefore a search for one country name will return variants of that country.

Every country has been linked to a geographic region, such as Europe, Africa, or the Pacific, and it is from the ‘Country’ field metadata that the ‘Region’ field metadata is derived. For this reason some places that are not countries have been indexed in the ‘Country’ field. This is to ensure that regions which are of high importance within the documents but which have few countries associated with them, such as the Atlantic and Pacific, are indexed in the ‘Region’ field. Examples of non-countries that have been indexed for this reason include the Balearic Islands, the Azores, and Gibraltar.

Metadata Field: Organisations

In consultation with the Editorial Board, a list of thirty key organizations that are discussed, are relevant to, or who created the documents in Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War was developed. These organizations include key intelligence, military, and governmental bodies in the U.K. and internationally, such as the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the United Nations (UN).

The ‘Organisation’ metadata field is only populated if one of these thirty organizations appears within a document. Users may also browse and filter documents within the resource by any of these organizations.

A longer list of organizations that appear within the files is available.

Metadata Field: People

The documents have been indexed with the names of people that have been identified by the Editorial Board as key individuals within the files and to the history of intelligence, British foreign policy, and the history of the Second World War and early Cold War. These people include statesmen and politicians, military personnel, and intelligence services personnel.

A full list of these key individuals is available.

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