History of the University Archive

History of the University Archive

Effective record keeping has been an important function of the University since at least 1490 when it was noted in the Annales Universitatis Glasguensis 1451–1558 that ‘in accordance with a proposition of the Lord Rector, a parchment book is ordered to be procured, in which important writs, statutes, and lists of the University, are to be engrossed: and also a paper book, for recording judicial proceedings.’   The clerk to the Faculty, and subsequently the clerk of Senate, maintained the records of the University due to the continuing requirement to ensure that the privileges, rights, policies and finances of the university were kept in good order.

The Clerk’s Press is the oldest surviving piece of university furniture and was acquired in 1634 to hold such records.  Since 1955, when the first professional University Archivist was appointed, the collections have grown to be more that just the official corporate memory of the University.  They now include documents that provide an insight into the history of the University which official administrative records do not convey such as material created by individual staff and students or groups and societies, as well as those of cross-institutional Higher Education bodies.

The University Archives holds the records of the University back to its foundation in 1451, with its earliest dating from 1304, and continues to advise on effective record-keeping practice and the identification of current records for selection as the historical records of the future.  These institutional records are primary resources for Scotland's educational, intellectual and cultural history. 

The collections include those for predecessor and affiliated bodies, such as Anderson’s College of Medicine, Glasgow Veterinary College, Glasgow Dental Hospital & School, Queen Margaret College, Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, St Andrews College of Education, St Mungo's College of Medicine, and Trinity College.  There are large collections of photographs relating to University personnel and buildings and Scottish topography and plans of University buildings and land.