Calendars

Scope and Content

Until very recently the University calendars were issued annually at the commencement of the academic session. The calendars were a compendium of information about the University, and as such are an invaluable research resource for basic, definitive information about the University's organization and membership. The main purpose of the calendar was to provide authoritative information about the University to both University staff and students, and to external audiences.

Calendars were first produced by Owens College in 1862/3, superseding the existing Principal's annual report (thereafter incorporated in the calendars). From 1880/1-1902/3, two different calendars were issued; one for Owens and one for the federal Victoria University, created in 1880, of which Owens was a constituent college. The first Victoria University of Manchester calendar was issued in 1903/4. Calendars typically include information on the University's legal status (each calendar reprints the relevant University charter), its statutes, ordinances and regulations, system of governance, an almanac of important dates in the coming academic session (e.g. committee meetings, degree days), lists of principal officers, academic and academic- related staff (arranged by department), regulations for degrees, prizes and scholarships and so on. The content of the calendars has evolved over the years to reflect the increasingly complex organization of the University; sections were added for new activities, while other information was discontinued or transferred to other University publications.

The early Owens Calendars were straightforward affairs, partly intended to provide the information described above, but also publicity tools for attracting prospective benefactors and students. The Calendar really developed in the 1870s following the introduction of a new system of governance in 1870/1 and the development of several new departments and courses. These calendars would typically include a list of members of Court, Council and Senate, lists of academic staff, Associates, and matriculated students, information on course regulations, scholarships and prizes, details of College examination results and degrees awarded to Owens students by other bodies (usually the University of London). The Calendars would also include information which would later be published in separate prospectuses such as course syllabuses, set books and lecture timetables, and course fees. The Calendars included the Principal's annual report, plus a report on the evening classes, an important aspect of the College's work until the 1890s. From 1872/3 the Calendars provided information on the new Medical School, including reports of the Medical Dean and later information on the local teaching hospitals with which the School was associated. Reports were issued for the Manchester Museum from 1873/4; the Department for Women from 1883/4; and the day training colleges [teacher training] from 1891. Information was also provided on the Library, Student's Union and the private halls of residence. Reports also contained information on the College's connections with secondary schools in the region, for which it undertook examination and inspection (information on this appears until 1916/7). Further changes came with the creation of the Victoria University in 1880, of which Owens was a constituent member, with information on the University's degree regulations. This information was published in both Owens and Victoria calendars.

By the Edwardian period, the calendar had become a bulky publication, due an expectation that it would record all relevant information. Some of the information included is of particular interest to the researcher; for example, there was a section on the employment destinations of former students (subdivide into academic work, teaching, clerical, law, military, business etc.). There was also information on the Manchester Municipal School of Technology (the future UMIST) with which the University was associated from 1905. Some information was however transferred to other publications. Increasingly course syllabus information was published in general and faculty prospectuses, and examination papers were not included in the calendars after 1911/12. Detailed reports on departments were published in the Reports of Council rather than the Calendars. Restrictions during the First World War saw a diminution in the size of Calendar, although War-related information such as staff and students serving in the armed forces, and war-work undertaken by the University was included. Inter war editions reintroduced some of the information lost during the War, and content was fairly stable until the outbreak of the Second World War, when the size was significantly reduced again. The 1939/40 edition was the last to include a list of matriculated students (i.e. those students currently studying at the University).

The expansion of the University in the 1950s and its increasing bureaucratic complexity was reflected in new sections published on the sessional Senate and Council committees, together with more information on the staff of administrative departments (Registrar, Bursar), the Library, Museum, Appointments officers, medical officers etc. In general, the format of the calendar remained largely unchanged from the 1950s to the 1980s. Some sections were removed: the last consolidated list of graduates appeared in 1958/9 (this information was published in separate volumes thereafter until 1981), and degree class lists ceased to appear after 1980/1. The 1986/7 calendar was the last to include commercial adverts, which had first appeared in the 1874/5 (the adverts are not without interest, as many were specifically directed at staff and students). Some new topical information was added: during the 1980s the Calendars included descriptions of the University's spin-off companies. The last VUM calendar was issued for the academic session, 2003/4. The new University of Manchester established in October 2004 did not continue the tradition of publishing an annual calendar.

The calendars are a key research resource, providing basic and reliable information about key features of the University's work. The calendars provide a foundation on which more advanced types of research can be built. For example, calendars up to 1939 can be used to confirm whether a student attended the University for the period and this information can then be cross-referenced to data in the student matriculation registers and attendance books for further elaboration. The calendars can be used to research information on staff and departmental organization, which can be developed with information from Senate, Council and Faculty Board minutes or from the Reports of Court to Council. For the pre-1914 period the calendars are the best source of information on syllabuses and examination papers. The Calendars also contain the Vice-Chancellor's annual statement (until 1967/8), which summarises major events over the previous academic session, although the reports of Council contain much more detailed information in this area.

All calendars in this collection are hardbound with the exception of the 1941/2-1949/50, 1988/9, 1990/1, 1994/5-2003/4 editions.

Former reference: UA/21