Prize Papers Materiality

The Prize Papers have survived in a unique material condition. Great parts of the collection have been preserved in a historical state of conservation actually dating back to the exact time when the records fell victim to privateering and became part of ensuing court proceedings. Letters that have never been opened, artifacts from life onboard ships, sailors notebooks containing fragile chalk writing or court bundles that were once stitched together by court clerks. Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that opening up the archive boxes is often like cracking open time capsules.

In the Prize Papers Project, preserving, documenting, and presenting the unique materiality of the HCA collection online is one of our main aims and it is also our responsibility as a digitization project. On this homepage, we present our approach regarding the collections materiality as a joint effort of archivists, conservators, imaging operators, historians, and IT-specialists, and provide insight into research opportunities, our daily work, and the challenges we face. This homepage aims to present and document our materiality approach. 


Take a look at some of the most intriguing pieces of the collection in terms of their material condition and preservation status.



Alongside thousands of documents, various other types of artifacts have survived in the Prize Papers collection. We digitize these artifacts individually.



Learn more about historical practices that have left their mark on the collection. Learn more about court practices, letter practices or archive practices.



Read more about the project's emphasis on preserving and documenting the materiality of the collection as a physical archive and its translation into a digital collection


Workshops and Documentaries

Working together and learning from external experts from various fields of research as well as from different departments in the National Archives is a corner stone of the Prize Papers materiality approach.


Get Involved!

The good thing about working on and with materiality is - almost anybody can take part in it.