Vice-Chancellor's Student SocietiesFiles

Scope and Content

Student society files compiled by the Vice-Chancellor's Office in relation to the officialrecognition of University societies, dating from the 1910s to the early twenty first century.

The files typically comprise standard documentation, mainly copies of constitutions, on whichrecognition was based, and correspondence relating to foundation and initial recognition of thesociety, amendments to names, constitutional and financial arrangements. In few cases, files includecopies of society syllabuses, handbooks, and details of social events. Most societies represented inthis collection were recognized by the University, but a small number were not, and correspondencemay reveal the reasons for non-recognition.

The archive provides a valuable source of basic information about the history of a significantnumber of University societies; this is of particular value, as the records of the great majority ofUniversity student societies have not survived. Overall, the files provide interesting sidelights inthe development and diversity of student social life at Manchester during the twentieth century.

Administrative / Biographical History

The earliest student society at Manchester dates to shortly after the foundation of Owens Collegein 1851, when a debating club was established. Since then societies have been established for arange of intellectual, social and cultural activities. Student societies have been subject to theoversight of the University and the Students Union; both have operated procedures by which societiesare officially recognized, and consequently can enjoy certain rights and privileges.

The University introduced its procedures for recognition in the early twentieth century;recognized societies were allowed to use University premises for meetings, and were authorised touse University noticeboards for their own purposes. Recognition was granted by the Vice-Chancellor'sOffice, after it was satisfied with a society's constitutional and financial arrangements. Societieswere required to meet two basic conditions: their objects had to include an academic element; andthe administration had to be in the hands of University members (not exclusively, but as thepredominant interest). Societies whose objectives constituted mainly "religious services orpolitical meetings for purposes of propaganda" would not generally achieve recognition. The Union'sprocedures, which permitted use of Union premises, and made societies eligible for small grants fromUnion funds, were similar in nature. Until 1968, the Union recognized societies only after they hadbeen recognized by the University. After 1968, the recognition processes were separated; in generaland with a few exceptions, any society recognised by the University was also recognized by theUnion, although the converse did not always apply.

Societies would apply for recognition by submitting draft constitutions for approval (in lateryears, a pro-forma constitution was devised). Recognition once granted was usually renewed for aslong as a Society existed. Not all clubs or societies applied for recognition, and informal groupsor societies with controversial objectives often did not pursue recognition, and hence will not berecorded in the files. Sporting clubs, which were affiliated to the Athletic Union, wereadministered according to its procedures. Recognition by the Vice-Chancellor did not apply tosocieties exclusively for members of UMIST, although UMIST students, as members of the Faculty ofTechnology, were eligible for membership of University of Manchester societies.


Files arranged alphabetically.

Access Information

The files are open to any accredited reader, unless otherwise stated.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the rightto process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of SensitivePersonal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes.In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal andsensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive areexpected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a formacknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of thematerial by themselves.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the University Archives by the Vice-Chancellor's Office in 2006.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private studypurposes 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'spermission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or privatestudy.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of anymaterial within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


No accruals expected.

Related Material

A file in the Vice-Chancellor's Archive (VCA/7/284) includes material on a number of recognized andnon-recognized societies from the inter-war and post-war periods including the Marxist Society,Zionist Society, Ethical Society, Anti War Group, Stage Society, Walking Club, Peace Pledge UnionGroup, Fascist Association, Indian Association, Ex-Service Students Association, Choral Society andBallet Club. The Students Union archive (SUA) includes information on the parallel process of recognition of societies by theUnion. The Union's annual handbooks will also include lists of societies recognised by the Union.The University Publications Collection contains a number of magazines produced by Student societies(UMP).

Regrettably, it appears that the records of many student societies have not survived, and theUniversity Archives consequently has the archives of only a small number of societies. Theseinclude: the Biological Society (UBS), Engineering Society (UES), Chemical Society (DCH/4), Architectural and Town Planning Student Society (MAS), Music Society (UMC), the Medical Colloquium (MMC/5/7/14), the Medical Students Representative Council, (MMC/5/9/1), and the Medical Students Debating Society (MMC/5/9/2) .

Geographical Names