University of Huddersfield Archive

Scope and Content

This collection contains the records of the work and activities of the University of Huddersfield and its predecessor institutions back to its foundation in 1841. The initial purpose of the organisation was to give the opportunity of a basic education to the young men of the local community, and this remit has expanded over the years to the current status of the organisation, that of a fully fledged university offering undergraduate and postgraduate education and research opportunities on a local, national and international scale.

In the Academic Administration section, records of students academic and scholarly activity is documented. Student timetables, attendance and progress reports, scholarship and exam registers, prize records and records of qualifications awarded are all contained within this section. Many early records still exist, although some series contain gaps in the early part of the 20th century.

Governance and Corporate Performance records reflect the decision making apparatus of the university. The Governance section includes the minutes of the University Council and Senate, and the Teaching and Learning Committees, which determine strategy and policy across the organisation, and at a local level, the minutes of the School Boards (the evolution of the organisation of teaching different subjects is explained in their descriptions). Annual Reports and Strategic and Corporate Plans contain a record of the long term planning for the institution, and the legal and statutory requirements of inspection and reporting are also contained in this section.

The correspondence in to and out from the institution describe issues of importance to staff, students and stakeholders, from the sponsor employers of the early days of the Technical College, to the partnerships with other educational and industrial organisations in the late 20th century. Internal memos reflect the types of educational and policy information circulated for the notice of staff, and the papers of the senior officers of the institution show the day to day work and more in depth projects undertaken to develop the institution's reputation and educational influence over time.

Another core section of activity is the recording of students of the institution, and their associated academic and scholarly activity. Student timetables, attendance and progress reports, scholarship and exam registers, prize records and awards of qualifications conferred are all contained within the Academic Administration section. Student records themselves have their own section, and contain a varied amount of information about the student and their background dependent on the period in which they enrolled. These records are subject to Data Protection legislation, and researchers can make a Subject Access request. Records are opened on the assumption of the age of the youngest student being 16, and adding a closure period to their 100th birthday, which means a rolling closure for 84 years. The records in the Teaching and Learning section cover the academic planning and operational side of the institution at a local level. Divided by school, in addition to the School Board minutes there are exam and module assessment board minutes, course proposals and handbooks (incomplete), course and school publicity leaflets and school administration files by subject.

The Marketing and Communications section may be of particular interest to researchers wanting to know more about the life of the institution and its ways of working and communicating information to staff and students. It contains an almost complete run of institutional prospectuses, which in the early days included a lot of published information about prize winners, exam results and scholarship programmes, as well as the courses running semester to semester in the College. Newspaper cuttings cover the period 1880s-1920s and then the 1920s - 1990s and are also fairly complete. Focusing mainly on the local press they show both the academic and social side of the institution. Research reports cover the annual research activities of academic staff, and there is also a set of staff newsletters which is fairly complete from 1967 - 2010s.

In addition to subject files contained in the Library and Archive section, there are early library catalogues and a special collection of books from the Mechanics Institute library. The Events section covers significant university events such as the installation of the senior officials to royal visits, and the public events those of an important nature to the history of the college, such as anniversaries. Records of the University Press and it's published output are also contained within the records, except for journal articles and papers which are contained in the e-prints repository:

The photographic and AV collection contains photographs of buildings, staff, students and events and many of them have been digitised. There is also a significant amount of video material of graduations and significant events. The day to day business of the institution, development of the campus and turnover of staff and equipment is recorded in the Estates, Finance and HR sections.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1841 the local Temperance Coffee House on Cross Church Street became the hub of an organisation known as the 'Young Men's Mental Improvement Society'. Working class young men of the area were aware that they had not been given a thorough grounding in reading, writing and arithmetic and five of them clubbed together in the evenings, with the help of voluntary teachers and support of local benefactors, such as employer and successful businessman Frederick Schwann (1799-1882), to redress this error. The idea was so popular that shortly after taught classes were introduced based at the British School at Outcote Bank. Teaching rapidly moved beyond the 3Rs, and a range of scientific and arts based subjects were soon being taught by teachers brought in from the Collegiate School or local experts.

By the time the organisation was renamed Huddersfield Mechanics Institution in 1844 the number of students had increased to over 400, and they had brought on a first paid Secretary, Robert Neil. The annual soiree that year held in the Philosophical Hall was attended by over 700 people. Two years later in 1846 a Female Education Institute was founded in the town which also taught a number of useful and practical subjects, such as Reading, writing, dictation, arithmetic, spelling, grammar, geography, history and sewing. By 1851, membership had grown to over 500, had outgrown the coffee house and moved into new premises in New Street, which became known as the Mechanics Institute. By 1861 the Institute moved to bigger and purpose built premises in Northumberland Street, with its membership now totalling over a thousand. Chemistry was now being taught, as was architecture, and the weaving and dyeing skills needed to boost the ever expanding local textile trades. Some of the teachers at the college, for example Chemistry teacher George Jarmain, were leading experts in their field, and published text books or widely within the research community.

In 1884 the Institute became a Mechanics Institute and Technical School and moved to a new £20,000 building in Queen Street South, taking the opportunity to expand its successful curriculum. More Science classes were counterbalanced by the introduction of Arts, Languages and Commerce classes. The new organisation was introduced to the area through a Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition lasting five months, and the organisation gained a new Library, Reading Room, Assembly Hall, Gynasium and Museum at a cost of £32,000. The Technical School Museum moved to Ravensknowle in 1919 to form the nucleus of the current Tolson Museum. The organisation was re-named the Technical College in 1896, and in the first decade of the 20th century affiliated with the Universities of Leeds and London in order that students could study for undergraduate degrees.

A change in the management of the institution also occurred during this period. Initially, there was a Committee who made strategic decisions and were ultimately responsible for the health of the organisation, funded through subscription by supporters and members. A Secretary was employed to manage administrative matters. In 1896, when the organisation changed to a Technical College, a Board of Governors became the decision makers, led by a Chair. The day to day management was carried out by the new role of Principal, who was assisted in the administrative side of his work by a Secretary, who acted as a kind of Deputy Principal. In 1903 the College became funded, and under the ultimate governance of the local authority, along with all other educational providers in the area.

1841 - Young Men's Mental Improvement Society founded

1843 - Reformed into Huddersfield Science and Mechanics' Institution

1846 - Female Educational Institute founded.

1883 - Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition held to mark completion and opening of new building.

1884 - Ramsden building opened, and HMI and HFEI merged into Huddersfield Technical School and Mechanics' Institution.

1896 - Organisation renamed as the Huddersfield Technical College.

1958 - Organisation renamed as the Huddersfield College of Technology.

1970 - Organisation reformed as Huddersfield Polytechnic.

1992 - Organisation reformed as the University of Huddersfield.


Classification scheme developed using elements of the function groups of the JISC HE Business Classification Scheme, and institutional history and significant persons cross-referenced through ISAAR (CPF) authority files. Indexed in accordance with LOC schema.

Access Information

Administrative records are open. Staff and student records are subject to the Data Protection Act, those over 100 years old are open.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Material has been re-sorted and re-boxed as part of the cataloguing process. Some material has undergone conservation work. Some of the older material is fragile.

Archivist's Note

This collection has been catalogued in accordance with the principles of the More Product, Less Process (MPLP) methodology by Greene and Meissner wherever possible. As many sets of records have similar characteristics they have been catalogued to series level only. Where legacy catalogues have been merged in, or documents are scarce but important to the organisation's history, item level cataloguing may still take place. Many correspondence files between the 1890s and 1910s required remedial conservation work, and a number of student registers required cleaning. Prior to de-duplicating and appraisal there were 1066 boxes in the collection. Catalogued according to Heritage Quay's HLF project Collections Intellectual Management Plan by Lindsay Ince, Assistant Archivist and Records Manager, November 2013 - November 2018.

Conditions Governing Use

Held by the institution on files and photographic collections unless otherwise stipulated.

Appraisal Information

The collection has been thoroughly appraised and de-duplicated for the most part. At the beginning of the project there were 1066 boxes. The only areas that were not appraised in depth include: the papers of Vice-Chancellor Durrands (HUD/WP/1/9) and the photographic collection might well be usefully appraised to remove shots made in error/blurry/duplicated photographs (HUD/PT/1-2)

Custodial History

Records have been collected and retained in the custody of the University, its previous incarnations and departments as part of normal record keeping process, and have been stored departmentally and centrally, in places like the Great Hall, and the storage areas of the Central Services Building. These were brought together and transferred to the archive service during its creation in 1992. A large batch of records were transferred into the archive from Level 2 general storage before the move to Heritage Quay in 2014. Regular accruals have taken place from the Vice-Chancellor's Office, mainly in the form of regular committee minutes, and from across the institution's constituent departments and schools, including large amounts of former student records.

Related Material

Degrees were formerly conferred by both the University of London and the University of Leeds, so administrative material may have been retained in their collections.

Huddersfield Corporation Education Committee also took over management of the college from 1903, and these arrangements remained in place until 1970, so related records may be held with the local authority collection of West Yorkshire Archive Service in Huddersfield.

The archives of institutions that merged into the University are held separately. See Holly Bank Technical Teachers Training College, University of Huddersfield (fonds) which merged into the School of Education and Professional Development in 1974, and the West Yorkshire College of Health Studies, University of Huddersfield (fonds) which became part of Human and Health Sciences in 1996. The archive also holds some papers for Barnsley College of Technology, a satellite body (fonds).

Papers belonging to members of staff have been catalogued as part of the administrative records of each School. The archive also holds the papers and archival materials of a number of former students. These collections include: Norman Culley (NCY), Renshaw ( ), Marian Rhodes (RHO), Geoffrey Rowe (GRA), Roger Shaw ( ), Sally Jerome (SJA)


Related Bibliography: 'Technical Colleges' by Barbara Price (1959, B.T. Batsford Ltd, London); 'Huddersfield, A Most Handsome Town' ed. Hilary Haigh;'The Making of a University' by John O'Connell (2016, University of Huddersfield Press, Huddersfield)

Geographical Names