Oxford Brookes University Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of material created by, and relating to, Oxford Brookes University and its predecessors. The collection includes administrative papers, academic papers, staff papers, papers of the Students' Union, papers of clubs and societies and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Oxford Brookes University began as the Oxford School of Art which opened in 1865. In 1870 the School of Science was incorporated into the School of Art and in 1891 was taken over by Oxford City Council's Technical Instruction Committee and renamed Oxford City Technical School. John Henry Brookes became Vice Principle of the Oxford City Technical School and Head of the School of Art in 1928. In 1934 the institution became the Schools of Technology, Art and Commerce and John Henry Brookes was appointed as the first Principal. In 1952 the name changed to College of Technology, Art and Commerce to signify the institution's new status as a technical college. In 1956 John Henry Brookes retired and in the same year the institution's name changed again to Oxford College of Technology.

In 1963 the new buildings at Headington were completed after a long struggle with the City Council regarding planning permission and years of inadequate accommodation for the College. In 1970 the College became Oxford Polytechnic and in 1976 the Lady Spencer-Churchill teacher training college amalgamated with the Polytechnic which meant a new campus at Wheatley. The Oxford School of Nursing was incorporated into the Polytechnic in 1988 and the Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy became part of the Polytechnic in 1992.

Under government legislation Oxford Polytechnic gained university status in 1992 and the celebrations to mark the new status, as well as the unveiling of the official signs, took place the following year. The new university was named Oxford Brookes University in honour of John Henry Brookes. Also in 1993, the University acquired the Headington Hill Hall site. The University's first Chancellor, Helena Kennedy QC, was elected in 1994 for a seven year term. She was succeeded by Jon Snow in 2001, followed by Shami Chakrabarti in 2008.

In 2000 Oxford Brookes University merged with Westminster College to form the Westminster Institute of Education at Harcourt Hill. The School of Health and Social Care moved to its new building on Marston Road in 2005.

This information on the history of Oxford Brookes University has been taken from the University's website: www.brookes.ac.uk/about/history


The arrangement reflects the functions of the University and has been developed with reference to the University's retention schedule.

Access Information

Before your first visit to the Special Collections Reading Room please complete a Reading Room registration form . The form is also available from the Headington Library Enquiry Desk. Internal staff and students will be asked to show their University ID card, and external applicants should bring proof of address

Applicants are bound by the Reading Room regulations .

The Reading Room is open between 1pm and 5pm, Monday to Friday, during the University semesters (dates available here ) and researchers can visit by prior appointment outside these times; Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm. Please email us to arrange a visit or if you have any queries: libraryenquiries@brookes.ac.uk

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available. The collection is currently being catalogued and new items will be added to the online catalogue periodically.

Archivist's Note

Arrangement developed by Eleanor Possart, 2009-2010; catalogued by Annabel Gill, 2010-2011.

Custodial History

The collection is comprised of records transferred to the archives from University departments and former members of staff and their families.


Further accruals are expected.


Henry, Elaine, 'Oxford Polytechnic: genesis to maturity 1865-1980', 1981.

History - Oxford Brookes, University webpage, www.brookes.ac.uk/about/history