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University archives

The University Archives are records of the University, its predecessor institutions and associated bodies, which are retained permanently because of their historical importance.

The University’s Archives are managed by the University of Manchester Library and maintained in a central store. They date from 1824 to the present day, and include records of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institution, Owens College, Victoria University of Manchester, UMIST as well as the current University.

Lime Grove, 1973 (University Photographic Collection, UPC/2/14)


Having an institutional archive which is comprehensive, relevant and up-to-date is essential to ensuring that we have an accurate record of the University’s activities and achievements over time.

To achieve this, we aim to collect key records created by the University’s governing bodies, professional support services, academic faculties, schools, research institutes and other business units.

Key records include:

  • Official publications such as Annual Reports, Prospectuses, Syllabi/Course Modules, and Examination Papers.
  • Minutes and papers of University committees.
  • Financial records (selective).
  • Policy files (selective).
  • Photographs and plans.

Identifying and transferring archives

Only a small minority of University records are retained as archives. The University’s Records Retention Schedule, maintained by the Information Governance Office, sets out retention periods and disposition actions for different types of University records. The ultimate disposition action is usually to archive or destroy records at the end of their retention period; ‘archive’ for these purposes means transferring to the custody of the University Archives.

 The Schedule is mandatory and it is essential that staff abide by its requirements.  Assessment and review of records for archival value will be an ongoing process, governed by the Schedule and supported by advice from the University Archivist. Managing records according to the Schedule will ensure that records do not accumulate in an uncontrolled way and disposition actions are taken in a timely fashion. It also facilitates identification of high-value records for archival retention.

Relevant records should be assessed for archival retention as soon as is feasible, and most records  can be assessed and transferred within ten to fifteen years of their creation; it is a misconception that archives have to be (visibly) old before these decisions can be taken. Occasionally, however, staff may come across legacy University records, which are not designated in the Schedule, and they should then contact the University Archivist ( for advice.  

The University Archives accepts records in any format. For recently created records we aim to acquire and maintain records in their original digital formats. Post-2004 archival records should only be in analogue (paper) form, if they are specifically required to be retained in this form. We can advise on transferring digital records to the Archives. A minimum of five working days notice is required before any records can be transferred to the Archives.

Note: the term ‘archiving’ is often used by administrators in a different sense to what is meant by the archival (permanent) value of records. Records which have continuing value to administrators may be ‘archived’ in offsite stores or offline digital storage for the duration of their retention periods; they may (or may not) become archives if their content justifies permanent retention, and only become so at the point of transfer to the University Archives. 

The Information Governance Office is responsible for the University’s overall records management policies, procedures and training, and it should be the first point of contact for staff with any general records-related issues.