Archive collections privacy notice

The Archives and Special Collections department supports the University of Surrey’s mission to provide excellent education, to advance and disseminate knowledge, to make an impact through research and innovation, and to engage with a diverse range of internal and external partners and communities. We do this by preserving and making accessible the records of the University, its predecessor institutions and its deposited archive and special collections in order to support research, teaching and learning, within the University and the wider community.

The data controller processing your data is the University of Surrey. We are registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office (our notification number is Z6346945) and we are committed to ensuring that the personal data we process is handled in accordance with data protection legislation. We have a named Data Protection Officer, Elizabeth Powis, who can be contacted via

We acquire and manage archive collections relating to four collecting strands:

  • The University, its predecessor bodies and related material
  • National Resource Centre for Dance collections
  • E H Shepard and related collections
  • Subject-specific archives and special collections relating to the University’s research and teaching interests.

The collections have been chosen for permanent preservation in order to maintain the historical record of the organisations and people featured within them, and because of their enduring value for education and research. The personal data within these collections is held in accordance with the safeguards and exemptions laid out in UK Data Protection legislation for archiving purposes in the public interest.

Alongside the collections, personal data may also be held in the form of:

  • Collections metadata which enables the management of the data
  • Catalogue entries, finding aids and biographical information which enable understanding of and access to the archive collections.

Only material assessed to have enduring value for education and research is retained permanently.

The collections are held distinct from the administrative records of the Archives and Special Collections department. Please refer to the Archives and Special Collections and National Resource Centre for Dance services privacy notice for how we handle your data if you use any of our services or give material to the archive collections.

Material for inclusion within the archives and special collections is selected based on the four collecting strands outlined above. Only material assessed to have enduring value for education and research is retained permanently.

For the University’s institutional archive, material is primarily received by internal transfer from within the University itself. Other material, including personal papers relating to the University’s alumni, is received from external organisations and private individuals.

Material relating to the other collecting strands is received from external parties or members of the University acting in a personal capacity, and is governed by gift or deposit (long term loan) agreements.

Prior to receipt of material from external depositors, the potential presence of personal data is noted. Material is accessioned on receipt and the presence of personal data is confirmed. During cataloguing all material is appraised to ensure only records of enduring value are retained.

We also hold personal data in material received prior to introduction of the procedures outlined above, and which has not yet been catalogued. During cataloguing, any personal data will be assessed in light of relevant collection policies and processes to ensure it is held in line with the current legislation.

We acquire and manage the archive collections in order that there might be a permanent record of the organisations and people featured within them. These collections:

  • Support research of all kinds, including academic, genealogical, and personal interest
  • Support student learning and study
  • Provide evidence of past actions and decisions
  • Support long term accountability and transparency.

In order to ensure the archives and special collections are available for these purposes, we carry out the following activities:

  • Acquisition and selection
  • Arrangement, documentation and cataloguing
  • Safeguarding of the material via secure storage, preservation work and repackaging
  • Conservation work, format shifting and data migration
  • Provision of access.

We manage the collections in accordance with international and national professional standards, good practice and relevant legislation (for example the Freedom of Information Act and copyright legislation).

Personal data within the archives and special collections is processed in accordance with UK Data Protection legislation and the University's own Data Protection Policy (PDF) and the safeguards and derogations relevant to processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, and with specific reference to The National Archives’ Guide to Archiving Personal Data.

Our legal basis for holding the personal data which appears in the collections is for the performance of a task in the public interest.

All the archives and special collections within our care are held within managed, secure and environmentally-monitored storage areas in accordance with documented procedures and taking into account current best practice. Digital records are held on the University’s servers or on moveable media which is held in the secure storage areas.

We provide access to the collections via services as outlined in our Customer Charter:

  • Onsite access via our accessible Research Room
  • Enquiry service and paid research service
  • Reprographics service
  • Online presence
  • Outreach programme.

Details of our holdings are available on our online catalogue, via the University Library catalogue and our Library website.

We retain records with a view to future as well as immediate access. Not all of the archives and special collections are accessible immediately and decisions regarding release of personal data are based around whether the use would be fair to the data subjects involved and to ensure that any adverse impact is minimised. Records containing special category data are closed until all people involved are judged to be over 100 years old.

Records containing other personal data are subject to a risk assessment and not released until the potential for impact on individuals is low or non-existent. Where material is made available in the Research Room, researchers are required to sign an agreement confirming that they will act in accordance with UK Data Protection legislation with regard to any personal data to which they are given.

Digital copies of archives are assessed before being made available on the internet to ensure that any adverse impact on living individuals is minimised.

Catalogue records for material which is closed are not available on the online catalogue.

Your rights regarding any personal data held about you within the archive collections are different to those regarding the administrative data we hold about you. This is where that right would prevent or seriously impair the purpose of holding the archive collections (i.e. to provide an accurate historical record).

Right to be informed

This privacy statement informs you about the manner in which we hold and process personal data in the archive collections.


If you believe we hold personal data about you in the archive collections and would like to access this, please fill out our requesting personal data form.


If you believe that the personal data we hold about you in the archive collections is inaccurate, please contact the Archives team. Whilst we would not be able to alter an actual document, as this forms part of the historical record, we will consider amending the catalogue record with your corrections.


If you would like to have your personal data redacted from an archive collection, please contact the Archives team so that we can review the material. In the first instance we would look at reclosure.

In addition, the Archives and Special Collections department stores legal and property records which need to be securely retained by the University for a lengthy period of time for legal and administrative reasons. As such, these do not yet form part of the University Archives and remain the responsibility of the creating department or its successor. They therefore fall under that department’s privacy notice.