The Essex Collection

Scope and Content

The papers primarily relate to the administration of the University, though a large amount of this archive also concerns the various committees responsible for overseeing the founding of the University as well as its construction. The large photograph collection traces the construction works by department or by block, including the student accommodation generally known as the Towers. Also included are extensive inquiries and reports on the student disturbances that occurred at the University in 1968 and 1974. The various sections reflect the administrative history of the University of Essex.

The content can be summarized as follows:

  • Minutes of the various committees comprising the University administrative and governmental system: Development committee (1963 - to date), Finance Committee (January 1963 - November 1998), General Committee of Senate (October 1968 - March 1996), Academic Planning Committee (1984 - 1986), University of Essex Council (1971 - date), the Senate (1965 - date), the Council and Standing Committee of the Council (1964 - date), Council of Government (September 1962 - February 1970), the Court, including University accounts (1965 - to date).
  • Minutes of various other committees: meetings of academic staff (1963-64); Safety Committee (1975 - to date), Social Policy Committee, Student Affairs Committee / Social Policy Committee (1969 - 1972), Library Committee (1964 - 1987), Catering Committee.
  • Press cuttings (1959 - to date)
  • Material relating to the Essex Students' Union (1973-1997)
  • Foundation Fund papers, plus endowments and appeals to potential benefactors, as well as other material relating to the first years of the University - site assessment and development, Charter and Statutes.
  • University publications and memorabilia. Also includes University Newsletters and press statements (1965 - 1986), Essex Calendars (1965 - 1996), Prospectuses (1995 - 2000).
  • Report of the Tribunal of Enquiry 1968 and Report of the Annan Enquiry 1974, plus related material, including pamphlets.
  • Photographs of: building construction by department and by block; staff and students in 1963; staff and students in 1980.

Administrative / Biographical History

The University of Essex is situated a couple of miles from Colchester, in the north-east of the county of Essex, just a few miles from the Suffolk border and close to 'Constable Country', an area of outstanding natural beauty. Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town - it was the largest civilian city of Roman Britain and its first capital.

The University has 17 departments spanning the Humanities, Social Sciences and Science and Engineering. Currently the student population stands at approximately 7,000, 25% of these within the Graduate School. The University is an international community with students from more than 125 countries. In recent assessments Essex has regularly ranked among the top twelve UK universities for the quality of its research, with many of its departments rated as 'outstanding' by international standards.

The idea of establishing a University of Essex was first raised by the Essex County Council in July 1959. A Promotion Committee was set up, formal application being then submitted to the University Grants Committee. In May 1961 authorization was announced in Parliament. This led to the constitution of an Academic Planning Board, chaired by Mr Noel (later Lord) Annan. By March 1962 it had finalized its report and in June of that same year Albert E. Sloman, then Professor of Spanish and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Liverpool, was recommended for appointment as the University's first Vice-Chancellor. In September 1962 it was decided that the Rt. Hon. R.A. (later Lord) Butler, Ch, MP, should be invited to stand in as the first Chancellor of the University.

In 1962 the University was presented with a two-hundred-acre site at Wivenhoe Park, situated on the eastern edge of Colchester. This was to become the University campus. It included three linked lakes; much of the park had been landscaped in the eighteenth century. Architects were appointed that same year. The first permanent buildings were completed by the end of autumn 1965. Professors were first appointed in March 1963 while in October 1964 the first intake of undergraduates took place. On 13 July 1967 the first degree congregation was held, and the University conferred for the first time the degree of Bachelor of Arts.

The first officers of the University were: Chancellor, Lord Butler; Pro-Chancellor, Sir John Ruggles-Brise; Vice-Chancellor, Dr A.E. Sloman; Treasurer, Lord Leatherland. On 30 September 1987, Vice Chancellor Sir Albert E. Sloman retired, to be succeeded by Professor Martin Harris who in turn was succeeded, on 30 September 1995, by Professor Ivor Crewe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Professor in the Department of Government at the University. On 28 February 1983 the University Court appointed the Rt. Hon. Sir Patrick Nairne, GCB, MC, MA, LLD, Master of St. Catherine's College, Oxford, as Chancellor. In 1996 Sir Patrick Nairne retired after 13 years as Chancellor and was succeeded by Rt. Hon Baron Nolan of Brasted, appointed the new Chancellor on 24 March 1997.


Papers (and photographs) are ordered in labelled and numbered files and boxes, and are arranged as follows:

  • Committee Papers 
    • Academic Planning Board/Academic Advisory Committee Minutes and papers, 22.9.61 - 26.2.70
    • Council of Governors - Minutes and papers, 28.9.61-16.12.64
    • Court - Minutes and papers, 20.12.65 - onwards
    • Meeting of Academic Staff - Minutes and papers, 28.3.63-28.9.64
    • Senate - Minutes and papers, 28.10.64, (General Committee of Senate: Consultation Set 7.2.68-)
    • Council/Standing Committee of Council - Minutes and papers, 18.1.65 - onwards
    • Development Committee - Minutes and papers, 4.1.63 - onwards
    • Library Committee - Minutes, 27.11.64-25.2.87
    • Catering Committee - Minutes and papers, 20.11.67-13.5.82
    • Restaurants' Consultative Committee - Minutes and papers, 27.1.72-2.5.78
    • Social Policy Committee - Minutes and papers, 22.11.89-2.12.92
    • Student Affairs Committee (Social Policy Committee) minutes, 1969-72
    • Safety Committee - Minutes and papers, 7.3.75-onwards
    • Student Union Executive Committee and Council Minutes, 1973/74-onwards
    • Student Union Executive Committee and Council Minutes, 1973/74-onwards
    • Student Union Finance and Services Committee minutes, 1997-onwards
    • University of Essex Nightline - Constitution (1993)
    • Convocation papers 1990-2000
  • Press Cuttings Collection, 1959-Foundation Papers
    • Box 1
      • University Promotion Committee: report of conference held at County Hall, Chelmsford, 29.3.60
      • Minutes of Essex County Council, 7.7.59; Report of the Education Committee on the proposed University of Essex, 5.4.60
      • First report of the Academic Planning Board to the Promotion Committee, February 196 2
      • University of Essex Fund booklet
      • J. Hyams - the role of industry and Essex County Council in the foundation of the University - 1980
  • Box 1(a) 
    • University of Essex - formation of the University Company, and Articles of Association
    • Correspondence 1960-62
    • Later correspondence re. Charter, 1964-66
  • Box 1(b) 
    • Papers re. Purchase of Wivenhoe Park, including Agreement between Essex County Council and Charles Gooch, 15.1.62
    • Correspondence and plans
    • Correspondence with Architects' Co-partnership, 1962-63 - Later correspondence with architects
    • Mary Rebow - photocopies of letters written from Wivenhoe Park in 1778 and 1779
  • Box 2 - Foundation Fund papers of N.W. Malin 
    • Correspondence 2.4.63 to 20.2.64
    • Grocers' Hall Lunch, 22.10.63
    • 'If this country is to prosper in the world of tomorrow' (Statement signed by the Chancellor, the Chairman of the Council of Governors and the Vice-Chancellor, [1964])
    • Foundation Fund Campaign: subscription lists, 25.10.63-22.10.64
    • Guide to the exhibition of the Development Plan, 1963
    • Foundation Fund Campaign correspondence and papers 19.11.62-12.8.63; 30.7.63-17.10.63
  • Boxes 2(a) and 2.(b) - Foundation Fund papers
  • Box 2 (c) 
    • Foundation Fund correspondence
    • Public launch, 22.10.63
    • Correspondence and circulars
  • Box 2 (d) 
    • Appeals to potential benefactors 1966-73
    • Endowments 1963-72
    • Nuffield Foundation: Centre for Latin American Studies 1964-67
    • American Council of Learned Societies 1964-72
  • Box 2 (e) 
    • Michael Rice and Company Ltd (Carreras Lectureship) 1966-78
    • Carreras Visiting Professorship 1966
    • Noel Buxton Trust correspondence 1964-78
  • Box 3 
    • The first three years: the development of the University of Essex, D.N. Bungey, Typescript and photocopy
    • The University of Essex impact on Colchester and the region - a preliminary report on transport and land use planning, 1965
    • Wivenhoe Park tree survey, 1963
    • Preliminary landscape report on transport and site studies, 1965
    • Notes and revisions made to the Development Plan, October 1963, Architects' Co-Partnership
    • Plans for residential accommodation (Mears Construction Ltd), 1972
    • Traffic study, Harris and Sutherland, 1969
  • Box 3 (a) 
    • Draft Charter and Statutes: correspondence with University solicitors, 1963-1966
    • Statutes and Ordinances: drafts and galley-proofs
  • Box 3 (b) - Development plan literature, sketches and publicity, including: 
    • J.M. McKean, University of Essex: case study, Architects' journal, 20 September 1972
    • Guide to the exhibition of the Development plan, c. 1963
    • A. Rowland-Jones, Basic principles of the University of Essex development plan, typescript [n.d.]
    • P. Long, Creating a university library, The Guardian, 5 June 1964
  • Box 4 - Various University publicity 1963-64; miscellaneous publications
  • Box 5 - Newspaper articles and special supplements 1964-67
  • Box 6 - University ' 64 Club (Records)
  • Box 7 
    • UGC Visitation, April 1966 (2 copies)
    • Estimates for the quinquennium 1967-72 (3 copies)
    • Estimates for the quinquennium 1972-77 (3 copies)
  • Boxes 8-9 
    • Report of the Tribunal of Enquiry on the events of May 7th 1968 - (6 copies)
    • Correspondence and comments re. the report
  • Box 10 - Tribunal of Enquiry, 1968, written evidence [files 1, 1(2), 1(3), 1(4), 2, 2(2), 2(3), 2(4)]
  • Box 11 - Tribunal of Enquiry, oral evidence 92 copies) [including one audio tape, Monday 27.5.68 (tape 3)] [files 2, 2(2), 2(3), 2(4), 2(5)]
  • Box 12 
    • University of Essex Working Party on the Code of Conduct, 1968-69 - written evidence (items 19-49; 51-66; 77 and 78) and report
    • Evidence submitted to the Senate Group on the decision-making structure of the University, 1968
  • Box 13 
    • Collection of material relating to disturbances, collected by M. J. Sommerlad
    • Working Party on ' Teach-ins', 1974
  • Box 14 
    • Collection of internal documents relating to the 1968 disturbances (collected by W.E. Evans, Information Officer)
    • Collection of press cuttings and other ephemera relating to the 1974 Sit-In (compiled by D. Trenow)
    • 1973/74 Disturbances - collection of press cuttings and papers (S. Cohen)
  • Box 15 - Collection of ' Essex' ephemera, gathered by Mr. T.P. Hughes
  • Boxes 16-18 - Collection of material relating to disturbances of 1968 and 1973/74, gathered by E. Rudd (3 boxes)
  • Box 18 (a) - Papers donated by Keith Ives (former President of the Students Union) relating to events in 1968
  • Boxes 19-20 - Report of the Annan Inquiry, 1974 (multiple copies)
  • Box 21 - Correspondence files with The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and the Press Council, 1968-71; correspondence file, University Quarterly news summary, 1970-1973; transcripts of B.B.C. programmes concerning the University, 1965-1977
  • Boxes 22-23 - University of Essex, Newsletters 1-284, 1965-1973
  • Boxes 24-26 - University of Essex - Reporter 1-65, 1965-83
  • Box 27 - University of Essex, Nexus, volumes 1-3, 1973-75
  • Boxes 28-32 
    • University of Essex, Press statements, 1962
    • Press cuttings (Gulbekian Foundation) 1963-67
  • Box 33 
    • A university in the making, A.E. Sloman (4 copies)
    • The Comedia in the age of Calderòn: studies in honour of Albert Sloman
    • Tapes of the Vice-Chancellor's broadcasts, 14.10,65 and 1979
  • Box 34 
    • Presentation of honorary degrees 1968 (no text), 1971, 1973-onwards
    • Orations given at the Installation of Lord Butler, 20 May 1967
    • Installation of Sir Patrick Nairne as Chancellor, 13 July 1983
    • Installation of Lord Nolan as Chancellor, 9 July 1997
  • Box 35 
    • Efficiency Studies Report, University of Essex, 1985
    • Efficiency Studies Reports, 1985 (Other universities)
  • Box 36 - Various files from Information Officer, including correspondence re. 25th Anniversary of the University; lists of visitors, 1965-70; list of press releases, 1962-81; quarterly news summaries, 1969-73
  • Box 37 (a) - Miscellaneous: 
    • Furniture and equipment estimates 1966-68
    • Day Nursery 1974-77
    • Teach-in 1974
    • Bookshop 1964-76
    • Local Government reorganisation 1971-72
  • Box 37 (b) - Miscellaneous: 
    • Gabrielli String Quartet
    • Gala Nights: correspondence 1977-1990
    • Snape Maltings correspondence 1972
    • Electoral registration of students correspondence 1970
  • Box 38 - Bill Tucker's newspaper cuttings 1966-70
  • Publications: 
    • University calendars 1964/65 onwards
    • University of Essex prospectuses 1964/65 onwards
    • Department/School booklets re. Courses
    • Staff handbooks, 1964-79 onwards
    • Student handbooks, 1965 onwards
    • Library guides 1964 onwards
    • Student Union handbooks 1982/83
    • Arts and Theatre publications 1977-80
  • Photograph collection covering the construction of the University, its buildings, Wivenhoe Park, and staff and students, 1963 and various years

Access Information

By written application to either the Librarian or Deputy Librarian. A letter of introduction may be required and prospective users will be obliged to sign an undertaking outlining the terms and conditions of access to the research materials.

Acquisition Information

Various, University of Essex.


This record was compiled by David Borg-Muscat, UK Data Archive, using entries from:

Albert Sloman Library (2000) A Note on Special Collections, (University of Essex: Albert Sloman Library), p. 5.

Record entered by Nadeem Ahmad of Qualidata, UK Data Archive, University of Essex.

Other Finding Aids

A record for all materials in the Special Collection is available via the Albert Sloman Library, Special Collections web page.

Conditions Governing Use

No part of the Special Collections material may be reproduced, published, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Albert Sloman Library. This may be obtained by application to the Librarian or Deputy Librarian.

Appraisal Information

In consultation with academic colleagues, the library special collections acquisitions staff evaluate collections by assessing their relevance to the teaching and research interests of the University.

Custodial History

The papers have been presented to the Library by the various departments of the University of Essex. However, some material such as the photo collection, have been donated by external sources.


Further additions will be made.

Additional Information

University of Essex: Albert Sloman Library.

Geographical Names