Archive services collecting policy

Updated on 1 February 2021

Policy describing the Archives contribution the University's Strategy and Transformative Vision.

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1. Mission statement

Archive Services is part of Culture & Information (with Records Management and Museum Services) which sits in the Directorate of LLC and C&I. The Archives was established in 1976.

Archive Services contributes directly to the University’s Strategy and Transformative Vision.

The main aims of the department are to:

  • secure the long-term preservation of the University collections and selected external organisational and personal records
  • promote the use of the collections to support the core institutional aims of research, teaching and learning
  • support the current business of the University through the provision of information from the collections and preserve the University’s corporate memory
  • use the collections in marketing and to promote the University
  • engage with the local and wider community

2. Collecting policy and process of deposit

Archive Services is responsible for the administration and care of the University Archives, the historical records of NHS Tayside and papers of other external organisations and individuals.

Material is acquired by internal transfer, gift, purchase and deposit (loan). Generally, acquisitions will only be accepted when outright ownership and copyright (where held by the donor) is passed to the University. Exceptions to this rule include the deposit of public records, where ownership cannot be rescinded. Where other deposited (loaned) acquisitions are accepted the owner may be liable for any costs incurred for the storage and management of the material, during the period of the deposit, if withdrawal is requested at a later date. The assumption is that if ownership is not transferred the deposit will be an indefinite or long term one.

Where the acquisition of any item would have significant financial implications in respect of storage, conservation, access or display, the matter will be referred to the Director of LLC and C&I and the University Secretary.

The precise terms of gift and deposit will be discussed with donors and depositors prior to the transfer of records.

New acquisitions are publicised annually through Discovery at The National Archives and, when catalogued, are made accessible via an online catalogue. The material, if open, can be consulted in person in the Archive search-room.

3. General collecting area

The principal collecting area is not defined in terms of geographical boundary, but rather by association with the University and its predecessor institutions including its past and present staff and students, and the areas of academic endeavour to which the University and its predecessor institutions have contributed. It is also defined by the administrative, teaching and research needs of the University, particularly in so far as these make use of historical material. However, Archive Services also collects records relating to organisations and individuals relating to Dundee and the surrounding area. These include, but are not limited to, records relating to the textile industry, the NHS Tayside archives and historical records of the Brechin Episcopal Church. It is acknowledged that other local repositories including universities, record offices, libraries and museums may collect within the same subject areas. Archives Services will work with such repositories to ensure that material is preserved in the most appropriate place, given the nature of the material, its relevance to the general collecting area as defined in this policy and the wishes of depositors. Items of relevance to the collecting area, as defined above, may be acquired regardless of their locations at the time of acquisition. Where this involves the collection of items from a place within the geographical sphere of influence of another repository, a principle of open actions and good communication will apply. Records will be accepted regardless of date of creation but must comply with other areas of the collecting policy. In an emergency, and to ensure the preservation of important material, the Archives may exceptionally accept material from outside its stated collecting area, relating to such spheres of interest as may not be covered by any other local repository. Such material is acquired on the understanding that it may be transferred to other repositories at a future time.

4. Specific collecting area

The Archives aims to collect material that will strengthen and develop its existing holdings. This includes proactively seeking accruals with potential to enhance teaching and research within the University. The specific collection area is subject to periodic review and comprises records relating to:

  1. The University and its predecessor and associated institutions, including its administration, functions, facilities and associated activities and of its staff and students
  2. Local business and industry, particularly the textile industry and its overseas connections, especially in India and Pakistan, local railway companies and any other company relating to Dundee which encompasses the general subject collection areas.
  3. Ecclesiastical records including the Brechin Episcopal Church, the Glasite church and local Methodist churches
  4. Architecture, town planning and the urban and rural environment
  5. Medicine and higher education in Dundee
  6. First and Second World Wars
  7. Local estates, families, societies and notable individuals
  8. Local transport
  9. Photographic collections
  10. NHS Tayside material and records of predecessor institutions
  11. Material relating to specific existing collections not covered by the above
  12. Any other material of local significance which encompasses the general subject collection areas, excluding the records of local authorities and other public bodies

Archive Services is also undertaking an oral history programme, recording interviews with people who have connections to the collections.

5. Types of material

The University collects primary source material in a variety of formats and media which include maps, plans, technical drawings, prints, photographs, electronic media, microfilm, microfiche and audio-visual and machine readable records; but will not normally collect three-dimensional objects (which will normally be offered to Museum Collections).

6. Disposal 

If the Archivist might destroy or return to the owner or donor any duplicate or unwanted material, this is made clear at the time of transfer. In all other cases there is a strong presumption against the disposal of material selected for long-term preservation and held in the University Archives unless:

  1. it is found that records or other material belong more properly with records in another repository, in which case they may be transferred but only with the consent of the owner and University Archivist
  2. The Archives are either temporarily or permanently unable to provide proper care for the collections, in which case they may be transferred to another appropriate repository with similar objectives, on such terms as may be agreed in writing and with the consent of the owner and University Archivist
  3. The owner of deposited material requests its return, in which case the conditions and procedures relating to this, as set out above and in the Terms of Deposit, will be followed

7. Content and review of policy

Please direct enquiries to the University Archivist:

Caroline Brown
University Archivist & Joint Head of Culture & Information
Archive Services
Culture & Information
Tower Building
University of Dundee

+44 (0)1382 384095

The Collecting Policy was compiled with reference to The National Archives UK Checklist of Suggested Contents (2004) and the Archive Service Accreditation Standard.

Policy revised 2016; to be reviewed by 1st February 2021

From Archives
Corporate information category Records management