University of Bristol and University College

Special Collections houses the non-current archive of the University central administration. Long series of board and committee minutes chart the development of the institution. In addition, a multiplicity of auxiliary sources has been accumulated to deepen understanding of life in the University and the role of the University in society and the world of learning. Principal features include:

  • Minutes and papers of Council and Senate, faculty boards, and committees, dating back to the earliest days of the University and University College, Bristol.
  • Records relating to student life, including an extensive archive of the Students’ Union and archives of halls of residence and a number of student societies. Student publications are also collected.
  • Printed publicity, eg calendars, prospectuses, fund-raising literature and newspaper cuttings.
  • Photographs from amateur and professional sources, ranging from commercially produced records of sports teams and the University Photographic Unit’s images of special occasions, through to student albums.
  • Property deeds and building records: A substantial collection, much consulted by archaeologists in respect of the historic fabric of the University. The deeds date back to the 17th century. The great Tyndall estate map was surveyed in 1785. Architectural plans are abundant and lavishly so in the case of major commissions such as the Wills Memorial Building.
  • Papers of academic staff, including a major concentration of records given by the families of distinguished physicists and other scientists and engineers. Special Collections holds papers both of Prof. Cecil Powell, Nobel Laureate for his work in particle physics, and Basil Cottle, Reader in Middle English and authority on medieval history, in the opinion of graduates the two most influential academics in post-war University history.
Ceremonial Key used by George V at the opening of the Wills Memorial Building, June 1925, DM320,
Poster for 'Radio Wills' from the University Archive, DM1447/2.

Online Archive Catalogue

Contains descriptions of many of our archive collections.

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