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The Student Life Collection

What Is The Student Life Collection?

As part of the university's 60th anniversary, we are looking to expand the University Archive to help document the York student experience and build a richer record of student life, societies, activism and community. 

The University Archive at the Borthwick Institute for Archives traces the university's establishment and growth. We want to create an even richer archive to recognise the wider experience of students, the challenges they faced, and document the past work of YUSU, the GSA and student societies.

We hold good runs of the two campus newspapers, Nouse and York Vision and are working to preserve York Student Television’s archive. We hold relatively few records, however, that relate to the students’ unions, groups and societies that operated on campus. We have even fewer records that reflect the perspectives of the many different types of students (e.g. mature, international, research, visiting or distance-learning students).

There is not, and never was, a typical ‘York experience'. We are keen to ensure the variety of this experience and allow these groups to be preserved in the University Archive. If you would like to contribute your material to the archive, please complete this form or contact us at

Contribute Your Material

What Material Do We Need?

We can accept both digital and physical records. All offers of items (including those outside the below categories) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Below are some suggestions on what this could look like:

  • Student publications (especially student newspapers/magazines missing from our catalogue, fliers and pamphlets)
  • Publicity material relating to University/student events (posters, programmes, fliers)
  • Photographs (activities, campus, rooms, arriving at University, colleges, on-campus events/gigs)
  • Letters home, diary entries (about life at University)
  • Papers from student societies (meeting minutes, photographs, publicity material)
  • SU/YUSU/JCR publications (meeting minutes, reports, yearbooks, handbooks, prospectuses, campaign records) 
  • Posters (campus events, student productions)
  • Video and sound recordings (early URY/YSTV programmes, campus footage, events eg. RAG week, college life, elections/campaigns) 
  • Campus fliers, documents, photos or manifestos relating to student activism, fundraising, awareness-raising initiatives
  • Poetry/prose from the time relating to student life
  • Records capturing student entrepreneurship

Material that we cannot usually accept includes: Student work (e.g. essays, dissertations), Objects, textiles etc. (e.g. University scarves) and Tickets for events/dinners.

We particularly encourage submissions from groups who are historically underrepresented in archives: including but not limited to those from ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, international students, care leavers, and students who came to university from lower socio-economic backgrounds or came to university much later in life.

Contribute Now

Frequently Asked Questions:

If you have records, photographs, recordings or documents that you think might be of interest and would like to donate to the archive, please complete the online form or contact us at Please send us a description of the records with details of its dates, format(s) (e.g. paper, negatives, 35mm film, digital/file/tape format, etc) and the number of items). We’ll then get in touch with you with a response.

Students past and present are integral to York’s story, development and future. Archives connect people with their history and play an important role in advancing research, opportunity and community.

Contributing to the Student Life Collection will make a lasting contribution, enriching our community’s collective memory and adding to a more inclusive historical and cultural record.

The Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York has been collecting and preserving archives since the 1950s. We hold millions of records covering centuries of history. We can provide the long-term preservation of archives, while allowing current and future students, researchers, and others to engage with our research collections.

When you offer a record to us, we will assess it for its lasting historical or research value and to see if we already have it or similar material. All archives have limited space and resources and we have to make sure everything we accept is significant and will be used in the future. This shouldn’t put you off from offering material, or make you worried that your record isn’t ‘good enough’, it simply allows us to make sure the archive is representative of the activities of our whole community.

If selected, your material will be preserved as part of the University Archive/Student Life Collection in the Borthwick Institute for future generations to study. It will benefit from appropriate archival preservation measures and professional care.

As soon as possible after receiving the material, you will receive a receipt confirming the deposit. Then it will be catalogued on our online catalogue Borthcat, which will make researchers all over the world aware that it is available for study. Describing and publishing details of all of the material we receive will take some time, and we will complete this work as soon as we can.

We ask that all records are given to the Borthwick Institute as a gift. This means that ownership of the record will pass to the Borthwick Institute.

We would also ask that if you have copyright in the record, this be signed over to the Borthwick Institute. This will enable us to use your writing or photograph for teaching, research, community engagement, exhibitions and publication.

If the information was created and is held digitally and you would like to submit a digital record, we would prefer the following formats to help us to preserve your record for the long-term. If you have any questions about the following or would like to submit a digital record in a format not listed, please email us at 

Text documents 

PDF: Portable Document Format

DOCX: MS Word Open XML Document (created in MS Office 2007 onwards)

ODT: OpenDocument Text Document (created in OpenOffice)

TXT: Plain Text File (ANSI or UTF-8 encoded)

Photographs and still images

TIFF: Tagged Image Format File

JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPEG 2000: Joint Photographic Experts Group

GIF: Graphic Interchange Format

PNG: Portable Network Graphic

Sound recordings

WAV: Waveform Audio File Format

FLAC: Free Lossless Audio Codec File

AIFF: Audio Interchange File Format

MP3:  Moving Picture Experts Group

Video files

AVI: Audio Video Interleave File (uncompressed)

MP4:  Moving Picture Experts Group

MOV: Quicktime Movie (uncompressed)

The Borthwick Institute is publicly accessible. We provide public access to records according to current legislation, including Data Protection laws, which protect information relating to living individuals. If you think some of the information in the records could be considered sensitive, confidential, or relates to others, please let us know and we will discuss this with you further. This will help us consider appropriate safeguards.

Any Questions?

Please email us at and we’ll do our best to help.