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Archives and Research Collections


Archives & Research Collections

Part of the Library, Archives, & Learning Services

Our mission: We support and expand the University of York's cultural endeavour and contribute to human understanding through collecting archives, preserving them, and making them widely available for research to all people: now and in the future.

Contact us:

If you want to get in contact with us, or find out more about our staff specialisms, details can be found on our staff pages.

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All Saint's Parsonage, North Street, 1811, J Leeman
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Medical instruments
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Medieval text
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A student reading from a historical book
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Interacting safely with real historical works
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Borthwick exhibition: Oliver Sheldon
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Rowntree Packing Fruit Pastilles, 1920

Who we are

Archives and Special Collections comprises: 

Our team is responsible for preserving the archives, rare books and artworks in our care, ensuring they are available for research to all people: now and in the future. 

  • Searchroom Team are the first port of call for enquiries about our collections and reprographics orders. They are responsible for managing our onsite searchroom on Heslington West campus, which is open to everyone – student, academic and general public alike.

  • Our archivists have a variety of specialisms, including medieval records and digital preservation. They acquire and catalogue new archive collections, undertake project and outreach work, and deliver teaching and learning opportunities using the collections for university courses and the wider public.

  • Our conservators look after all aspects of collections care, ensuring they are safe, free from physical and environmental threats and suitably packaged for long-term preservation. They carry out treatments to stabilize and repair collections where necessary, and support the rest of the team with disaster prevention and archives handling training.

  • Our digitisation coordinator and University photographer are responsible for creating high quality digital outputs, either from our archive collections to support teaching and learning, or as a record of University events (which will later become part of the archive).

  • The University’s Rare Books Librarian (who is also the York Minster Librarian) manages the rare books in our care (available for consultation through our public searchroom in the Borthwick) as well as the collections held within the library at York Minster (available through their reading room) as part of the York Minster Library Partnership.

  • Our Art Curator is responsible for the day to day management of the University Art Collection, as well as loans from our collections to public exhibitions.

  • The University’s Records Management team create, organise and promote effective and sustainable records management systems and policies for the University's records and data and provide advice, expertise and training on information management and record-keeping.

What we do

Support for students

Our team can help you identify and use suitable resources from our collections in your research, whether you’re an undergraduate, Masters’ student or working on your PhD. Your first ports of call are our archives catalogue, Borthcat, for archive collections, Yorsearch for rare books, and our Art collection website for artworks. We’re always happy to answer any questions. We can also support you through:

  • Training and advice on how to use Borthcat, as part of the Teaching and Learning Team’s Digital Skills programme. 

  • Our teaching, offered within relevant modules identified by your department.

  • Work experience placements or other development opportunities, such as Digital Creativity Week, when our staffing allows.

Support for staff

Our team consists of professionally qualified staff across a range of disciplines, including librarians, archivists and conservators. We are keen to support teaching and learning within, and outside, the University. 

Our Digitised Archive Resources for Teaching (DART) service is available for anyone running a taught course at the University of York, providing digitised content from the archive for use in teaching. We can also host onsite visits to the archive as part of your course, so that you teach with our collections face to face. 

We have guidance on planning funded research projects, and are always happy to provide further assistance where we can.

If you would like to talk to us about using or visiting the archive as part of your teaching then please do contact us.


Our collections span nearly 1,000 years of history, and include manuscripts, printed works, audio-visual materials and digital files. You can find out more detailed information about who we are, what we do, our collections and how to arrange a visit to us on our website.

You’ll need to see most of our collections in person in our onsite searchroom. Sometimes, though, the documents in our care need some interventive treatment from our conservators before they can be safely consulted. Watch our Senior Conservator Alison working to stabilise a weakened paper document in this short film. (Please note: this film has no sound).

We also have a number of digitised collections and resources, available wherever you are in the world. Keep up to date with our new acquisitions and what we’re up to on our news pages.

Our website contains a number of themed research guides, including on Women’s History, LGBTQ+ History, Race History and Disability History, to help you discover more about our collections.

Records Management

Records Management facilitates innovation, efficiency and information-sharing by providing advice and expertise on the lifecycle management of University records. Effective records management practices also support accountability and compliance by ensuring that the records we create and use serve as reliable evidence for as long as they are needed. The University Archive preserves the University’s corporate memory by identifying university records of long-term value and records that are needed by the entire University community to understand our history. Find out more about records management