The University of Sheffield archive

The University of Sheffield archive is the historical record and corporate memory of the University and its predecessor institutions.



The records reflect the development and achievements of the University from its constituent members – the Technical School, Medical School and Firth College, through to the creation of the University College in 1897 and the University of Sheffield in 1905.

It is an important research resource for those interested in the history of the University, the wider local community and of Higher Education within the UK.

Accessing the archive

The University of Sheffield Archive can be accessed by booking a place in the Special Collections reading room. 

Special collections, reading rooms information

Any enquiries regarding The University of Sheffield archive material should be directed to 

Archive appraisal policy

Not all records created as a result of University functions and activities are worthy of permanent preservation. Once administrative, regulatory or statutory retention periods have expired, certain records can be reviewed according to the appraisal criteria set out below.

Other records can be identified as worthy of permanent preservation at the time they are created. Transfer of such material from departments, or the University Records Centre, will be facilitated as part of the lifecycle management of records created within the University.

Primary values

Factors that will affect how long a record remains useful to the department that created it. From establishing its primary value, we can identify how long to retain it before this value ceases.

  • Administrative value of records which are created during the course of a business transaction.
  • The Regulatory or Legal value refers to the value a record has in documenting business transactions and in providing proof of compliance with regulatory or legal requirements.
  • The Fiscal value refers to whether the record retains any value regarding use of University funds.

Secondary values

Factors which will have a bearing on whether records are retained permanently are:

  • Evidential value: whether the record provides evidence of the University’s organisation, functioning or administrative structure.
  • Informational value: whether the records contain factual information about the University and its stakeholders.

Other factors to be taken into consideration are:

  • Administrative needs: quite often these will be long term. Some information on files will be required for far longer than other information.
  • Content: is the information extensive, intensive or diverse?
  • Importance: in the context of the creating organisation. Does it relate to an important person, event, building, etc?


Major collections

The University's administrative archive includes many different departmental collections including records from the Vice-Chancellor's Office, the Office of the Registrar and Secretary, Student Services, University publications and Official University committee minutes.

Details of major collections will soon be available on the University's new Archive discovery portal. Until then, please contact Matthew Zawadzki regarding the University's administrative archive material.

Archive collection policy

The University's administrative archive will aim to identify and preserve records of historical significance pertaining to its functions and activities. The University's main functions are:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Research
  • Academic Administration and Support Services
  • Knowledge Transfer and Enterprise
  • University Management
  • University Resources
  • University Relations

The records selected for permanent preservation will provide evidence of the what, why, where, who and how relating to the above functions and their supporting activities and transactions.

In particular the archive will aim to collect records that document the University as:

  • A corporate entity
  • A research organisation
  • A teaching and learning organisation
  • A member of the local community
  • A member of the wider higher education community
  • A community in itself

In acquiring records every effort will be made to avoid conflict and duplication with the collecting policies of other record repositories.

The University archivist reserves the right to reject unsuitable material, for example records which do not conform to the collection policy, material which duplicates existing holdings, or material which might be more appropriately housed at another repository.

The archive will accept material in the following formats: manuscript, printed, photographic, audio-visual and material created electronically and stored on formats such as 5.25 or 3.5 inch floppy disk, CD, DVD, USB stick.

At present, the archive does not possess the appropriate technical or physical resources for the long term retention of large quantities of such material.

Further detail on the types of records, and how and why records will be identified and retained for permanent preservation can be found in the Appraisal Policy, above.

Access to archive material

Access to archival material will be at the discretion of the University archivist, taking into account statutory obligations such as the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998, and the physical condition of the archival material being requested.

Material may be consulted within the University's Special Collections reading room. Researchers must make an advance booking (minimum 24 hours) to consult archive material by contacting the archivist responsible for the University's administrative archive.

The reading room is open Monday to Thursday, from 10.00am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4.00pm.

Reading room regulations

The records of the University's administrative archive are unique and irreplaceable. The following are guidelines on the use of the archive material:

  • No records or catalogues may be removed from the reading room.
  • No bags or other coats may be brought into the reading room. Lockers are provided for the use of researchers.
  • Only pencils may be used in the reading room for note-taking.
  • No food or drink may be consumed in the reading room.
  • Please do not fold or mark material in any way.
  • Please use cushions and supports for material where appropriate.

Copying material

Photocopying and reproduction of material by photography is allowed only where the process is deemed not to be placing undue stress on the original document.

All copying is subject to the physical state of individual documents and at the discretion of the archivist.

A copyright declaration form must be filled out when copying any material.

If researchers wish to publish any extracts or images from the University's administrative archive then permission must be sought in writing from the University archivist, and due acknowledgement and citation of appropriate references must be given.

The use of digital cameras or professional photography is allowed at the discretion of the archivist.

The archivist reserves the right to refuse copying of documents if it is likely to harm the document, or if the copying being requested is deemed excessive.

The archive reserves the right to charge for copying and for disbursement of copies.


Archive advice and guidance

The University archivist can advise if departmental records are worthy of permanent preservation within the University's administrative archive.

For example, departments who are relocating often take the opportunity to dispose of old records they think might no longer be useful.

If this is the case, please contact the Records Management Team - arrangements can be made for the secure transfer and custody of such records, prior to their arrangement and cataloguing to professional archive standards.

The University archivist can also advise on the holdings of the archive, and the contents of particular records in the context of whether they could be of use to researchers.

The University's administrative archive can only be enhanced by good record keeping within the University. Good record keeping makes good archives.

There is, therefore, a close relationship between the University's Records Management services and the University's administrative archives.

Guidance and advice on any aspect of record keeping or information management can therefore be sought from the University archivist/Records Management Service.

For advice and guidance on any aspects of archiving, please contact the Records Management Team at

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