University of Manchester Publications Collection: Newspapers, Magazines and Newsletters

Scope and Content

This artificial collection consists of newspapers, magazines and newsletters published by the University of Manchester, the Students Union and various student societies, alumni groups and halls of residence. Of particular importance are the student magazines, Owens College Magazine, Owens College Union Magazine, Manchester University Magazine, The Serpent, and Manchester University Medical Students Gazettein UMP/2, which provide varied information about student activities and attitudes for the period running from the late 1860s through to the late 1950s. However, this collection does not include most of the more recent student publications including the newspapers, News Bulletin, Manchester Independent and Mancunion, which can be found in the Students Union archive (SUA), which is also part of the University Archives.

The student publications are an invaluable research resource for studying the development of student attitudes to the University, and to broader social, political, educational and cultural issues over time. This collection provides invaluable insight into the history of student journalism, in terms of content and individual contributors, and the business of publishing student newspapers. Some contributors to these publications have gone on to have significant literary or journalistic reputations; for example, the novelists George Gissing and Anthony Burgess both published work in these publications when Manchester students [Gissing in Owens College Magazine and Burgess in The Serpent].

Student activities may also be tracked in UMP/4, which comprises publications of selected University halls (nearly always produced by the students themselves). This material has not been collected systematically by the University Archives, and in many cases, full runs of these publications will be kept by the halls in question. UMP/3 is a small collection of publications produced specifically for alumni.

Since the late 1950s, the University itself has published a number of magazines and newsletters, and these can be found in UMP/1, including Staff Comment, This week, next week, Communication, and the University of Manchester Gazette. These publications are informative about major University initiatives and policies, new buildings, departments, research projects, staff, and the history of the University.

The publications in this collection constitute a major resource for the history of the University of Manchester. Collectively, the publications provide a wealth of information on the University, its departments, staff, students, and alumni. The relationships between the University and its staff, and between staff and students can also be discerned from these publications. They help illustrate how the University tried to convey and justify its actions to various constituencies, and how these views have sometimes been disputed.

The collection contains full runs for most of the major publications, but coverage of the shorter-lived and more obscure magazines and newsletters is more patchy. This collection does not include any publications of UMIST and its predecessor institutions, which form part of the UMIST archive.

Administrative / Biographical History

Newspapers, newsletters and journals have played an important part in the cultural and administrative life of the University since the foundation of Owens College in 1851. They have been one of the most important sources of communication between the University and its staff, students, and alumni. Publications have helped promote official University policies and publicised its activities, achievements and history, but they have also been the means by which such policies have been contested and challenged (particularly in student publications).

Newspapers and magazines have been a particularly significant mechanism for transmitting the beliefs and opinions of the student body, not only about University matters, but also broader issues of politics and popular culture. Taken together, these publications are probably the most important documentary source for studying the history of the student body at the University. The first student magazine appeared as early as 1868, when theOwens College Magazine was published; one of its explicit aims was to foster stronger student identification with the College. The Magazine was a success, and set the tone for student publications until the Second World War; these were generally monthly publications, with a mixture of serious and humorous articles. These magazines also published information about Union activities including debates and reports of University sports clubs. From the 1890s photographs of staff and students began to appear in the magazines. The Owens College Magazine changed its name over the years, to Owens College Union Magazine (1894-1903), Manchester University Magazine (1904-1917), and The Serpent (1917-1956). These magazines were published by Students Union, the only body with the administrative and financial weight to do so.

As the student body of the University grew and became more diverse, other student publications appeared for more specialist interests. One of the most important of these was the Manchester University Medical Students Gazette, published by (for most of its existence) the Medical Students Representative Council and addressed specifically at the University's medical students, traditionally a highly autonomous group. This included features and articles, usually of a highly irreverent nature, about the Medical School. Women students had been admitted to Owens College from the early 1880s, and by the end of that decade they were producing their own journal, Iris. In 1892 Iris merged with the Owens College Union Magazine, and although women student journalists continued to be important in these mainstream publications, there was no general publication specifically for women students until the short-lived Women's Union publication, Women Only which appeared in 1937.

In the 1930s the first student publication in newspaper format appeared, News Bulletin. As its name suggested, it concentrated on reporting news items, mainly relating to the Unions. News Bulletin survived until the late 1950s, by which time another newspaper, Manchester Independent was appearing (as its name suggests, it was published independently of the Students Union). In the mid-1960s Mancunion, a Union newsletter, began to appear. This evolved into a tabloid with high production and journalistic values in the 1970s. This newspaper now appears as Student Direct and is produced jointly with the other Manchester universities.

Several student societies have produced their own newsletters or magazines at various times: these first appeared during the inter-war period, e.g. Globe [geography], Manchester University Chemical Society Magazine, Circle [English], and the Manchester University Science Federation Journal. In the post-war period, a number of these mostly short-lived periodicals appeared including: Panoramic [German], Geological Field Club Magazine, Dover Soul [economics], Helix [biology], and Clarion [history]. A new phenomenon appeared in the late 1960s when political magazines began to appear against the background of student unrest, most of which were associated with radical political groups. These included Guerilla, Cadre, and the satirical magazines, Rigor Mortis and Mucky Duck.

The University itself was a comparatively late-starter in the field of journalism. Its first periodical publication, Journal of the University of Manchester, only ran to three issues (1937-1939), and was cancelled on the outbreak of the Second World War. In the post-war period, the University's Gazette was issued termly from 1950, providing official information on appointments and retirements of staff, and the activities of the University's governing bodies. By the late 1950s there was a growing feeling that communications between the University and its staff required improvement, and a newsletter could be a means of effecting this. The result, Staff Comment, appeared in 1960, with the specific objective of attracting comment in the form of articles and a correspondence column from (mainly academic) staff about conditions at the University. The early 1970s saw the development of a general features magazine, Communication [published by the Communications Office] which included articles on current University staff and departments, and the some interesting articles on history of the University. The Gazette, Staff Comment, and Communication all fell victim to funding cuts in 1981. In the latter decades of the twentieth century, the most widely-read publication was the weekly newsletter, This Week, (which changed its name to This Week, Next Week in 1992 when it became a fortnightly). This evolved into a sophisticated, glossy publication, with articles and features on all aspects of University life. Prior to the creation of The University of Manchester in October 2004, it was superseded by Unilife, which largely retained the format of TWNW.

University magazines have also been produced for another constituency: the alumni. The first such publication was the Old Owensian Journal, produced by the main alumni group, the Old Owensian Association. This lasted until around the outbreak of the Second World War. It was not until the late 1980s that the University published an alumni magazine of its own: Manchester Graduate, a glossy annual publication, similar in format and content to This Week, Next Week.


Some publications have been bound into volumes, others are loose copies. Each publication is arranged chronologically. Publications have been divided into four main groupings:

  • UMP/1- Publications of the University
  • UMP/2 - Student Publications
  • UMP/3 - Alumni Publications
  • UMP/4 - Publications of Halls of Residence

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Other Finding Aids


Alternative Form Available

It is likely that copies of some of these publications exist at other locations within the University.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PP.

Custodial History

The magazines have been transferred to the University Archives at various dates.


Accruals will occur for journals which are still being published at the time of writing [2012].

Related Material

Some University newspapers and magazines form part of other University archive collections, when this material has been accumulated as an integral part of that particular archive. This is particularly the case for the Students Union Archive (GB 133 SUA, which includes copies of News Bulletin (SUA/8/1), Manchester Independent (SUA/8/2), Mancunion/Student Direct (SUA/8/3), Solem (SUA/8/4), and Rag Rag (SUA/7) , the University Rag magazine. The Manchester University Chemical Society Magazine can be found in the Department of Chemistry Archive (DCH/4/7) and Helix in the archive of the University Biological Society (UBS/2). The architecture students journal 244 (1953-1962) is kept with the Architecture Students Society archive (MAS). The Langdale Hall Archive contains a run of the Langdale Hall Newsheet (HLH/2/4/1). The School of Education Gazette and Edlines form part of the archive of the Faculty and Department of Education (FED).

This collection does not include serials published under the auspices of the Manchester College of Technology or UMIST; these form a separate collection in the UMIST archive (TMP).

Geographical Names