Archives

Welcome to the archives of University College, which contain eight centuries of history about the College, its estates, and its members. The following information will tell you more about what we hold here, and how to contact us or arrange a visit.

Details of and access to our Online Catalogue van be found here

Scroll down or choose from one of the following options to jump down the page to the relevant section:

About the Archives
Accessing the Archives
Reproductions from the Library and Archives
Further Reading

Please note: These pages relate only to the archives of University College; if you are looking for the main University Archives of Oxford, they can be accessed here.

The Archivist of University College is Dr Robin Darwall-Smith - he can be contacted by email on robin.darwall-smith@univ.ox.ac.uk 

 

About the Archives

The documents held in the archives of University College fall into several categories:

• Documents about the administration of the College, including statutes and minute books.
• Documents about the College’s estates, including many early title deeds (some dating back to the late twelfth century), manorial court records from medieval times to modern ones, leases, and maps.
• Documents about the College’s finances from the 1380s onwards (an edition of the accounts for 1381/2-1596/7 has now been published).
• Documents about the College’s buildings, including plans and drawings.
• A few papers of former Masters, Fellows, and undergraduates. To find out more about the personal papers we hold here, go to the ARCHON directory of record repositories on the website of The National Archives, to find a list of the collections which we hold.

We hold very few records actually about undergraduates before the 20th century. We also hold almost no records about College servants.

A good place to find out where the personal papers of former members of the College may be kept is the on-line index of the National Register of Archives, which can be viewed here. This  is also on the website of The National Archives, available here.

 

Accessing the Archives

Researchers are welcome to arrange to visit University College to consult documents in the archives. The Archivist is willing to answer simple enquiries about the archives himself by post or e-mail. If, however, the enquiry looks like being a long one, then he will advise searchers to visit the archives themselves.

The Archives of University College are usually open, by appointment only, on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10.00-1.00 and 2.00-4.30.
Most documents in the College’s archives are generally available for inspection, if they are in a good enough condition. Records of a more confidential nature, especially about persons still living, are usually closed.
In the interest of protecting our collections, please remember to bring a pencil for taking notes. You may, however, bring your laptop with you, if you have one. We also ask you to obey the rules of the searchroom about the safe handling of documents.
If you are visiting Oxford by train, the no. 5 bus, which sets off from outside the station, has a stop at Queen's Lane just across the road from University College. If you are coming into Oxford by car, we recommend that you use one of the Park and Ride car parks: driving, let along parking, in the centre of Oxford is not at all easy. Full details of how to find Univ can be found on our Maps and Directions page here.
 

Reproductions from the Library and Archives

It is possible to obtain reproductions of documents from the library or the archives. Visitors are allowed to bring digital cameras with them and photograph items for their private research only. The Librarian or Archivist reserves the right to forbid photography of documents in a particularly fragile state.

Some documents can be photocopied, but only at the Librarian or Archivist’s discretion.

The Librarian or Archivist can arrange for high-quality images, both print and digital, to be taken by a professional photographer. Details of services and fees are available on request.

For more information about obtaining reproductions of images, contact the Archivist here or the Librarian here.

 

Further Reading

Robin Darwall-Smith, A History of University College, Oxford (Oxford University Press, 2008).

A, D. M. Cox and R. H. Darwall-Smith (eds.), Account Rolls of University College, Oxford, 1381/2-1470/1 and 1471/2-1596/7 (Oxford Historical Society, new series volumes xxxix and xl [1999 & 2001]).

Robin Darwall-Smith (ed.), Early Rolls of University College Oxford (Oxford Historical Society, new series volume xlvi [2015])

The University College Record, our annual College magazine, has since the 1920s published many articles on aspects of College history, whilst the eight-volume History of the University of Oxford, published between 1984 and 2000, is a rich source of material about the history of Oxford University in general.

The Oxford Archives Consortium (OAC) lists other useful works, as well as a glossary of Oxford terms, some frequently asked questions about Oxford, and gives the names of other College archivists - visit the site here.