About the University archives
What are archives and why are they important?
Archives are evidence of transactions which have been selected for permanent preservation. Selection is based either on historical or evidential value demonstrating accountability and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Archives can take any format or medium including manuscripts, deeds, reports, publicity material, maps, plans, photographs, and although most are in paper form, some are ‘born digital’: websites, emails, electronic documents and sound or video files. The records are usually unique, and irreplaceable if they are lost or damaged, so are kept in special boxes and storage conditions to preserve them for future access. Archives cannot be borrowed and are looked at under supervision by archive staff, who can also offer help finding records relevant to your research.
Like books in a library, archive collections are given a catalogue reference, to help identify and manage them. Archivists try to follow the structure of an organisation when dividing up the records into sections to catalogue, and each of the levels is identified and given sub-references. This forms a hierarchical ‘tree’ structure, which you can browse on our catalogue.
Unlike libraries, because each archive collection is unique, catalogue references and formats will vary from office to office, and possibly from collection to collection in one office! It’s therefore important to carefully note down any references of documents you would like to see, or have seen on a visit to an archive, so you or other people looking at your work can find them again.
Read about the collections and the advice on searching, or contact the staff if you are having trouble.
Surrey University archives
Our archives provide information about the University’s history and organisation and convey evidence of its policies and decisions, showing what the University has done and why, how it is organised and operates, and its effect on the wider community. Established in accordance with a resolution of the University Senate of 7 February 1984, the University Archive collection is the official repository for the historic records of the University of Surrey. Records go back to the founding of Battersea Polytechnic in 1891, and cover up to the present. We collect copies of current publications, such as The Stag and Surrey Matters, as well as minutes and other documents, once they are no longer required for day-to-day business purposes.
You can find the following for both the University (1966 onwards) and its predecessor, Battersea Polytechnic (founded in 1891):
- minutes of Senate, the University Council, and their committees as well as the Polytechnic Governing Body
- records of academic and administrative departments
- financial records, including annual accounts and balance sheets
- records of relations with external bodies and associated institutions
- publications, including annual reports, calendars, magazines, prospectuses, newsletters, student magazines and handbooks
- student enrolment records
- staff records
- examination papers
- records of University and Polytechnic land, estates and facilities
- photographs and items of historic interest, such as badges, clothes and trophies