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University’s history told by those who helped shape it

Posted on 1 March 2013

The University of York has launched a new digital archive recording the memories and histories of some of the people who have helped shape the institution over the last 50 years.

Part of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, the York Oral History Project has recorded and transcribed the recollections of a wide variety of people including vice-chancellors, former students, founding fathers, current academic and support staff, as well as people from the wider York community.

The first 50 interviews, which were carried out by historian and journalist Greg Neale, an honorary visiting fellow at York and founding editor of the BBC History Magazine, are now being lodged in the University Archive in the Borthwick Institute for Archives and will be available later this year.

Among those interviewed are Sir Donald Barron, who from the late 1950s was Treasurer of the York Academic Trust – the group that successfully campaigned for the University to be established - and Sir Andrew Derbyshire, the architect who shaped the original Heslington campus.

The mosaic of these individual memories builds up a fascinating picture of the whole, reflecting the evolution of a world-class institution

Professor Mark Ormrod

The project is designed to ensure the legacy of the 50th Anniversary lives on, providing a resource which is available to researchers and the public forever, and which can be added to in years to come.

Professor Mark Ormrod, York’s Academic Coordinator for the Arts and Humanities, who jointly chaired the steering group for the project, said: “The York Oral History Project is a unique opportunity to gather the memories of people who have helped shape the University of York since it first opened its doors to students in the autumn of 1963.

“The interviews reflect the personal stories and experiences of a wide variety of people. However, the mosaic of these individual memories builds up a fascinating picture of the whole, reflecting the evolution of a world-class institution.”

Chris Webb, Keeper of Archives at the University’s Borthwick Institute for Archives, added: “The memories captured by this project will inform our own history, the history of the post-war universities, and that of education in general. It will be an important resource for many years to come.”

Excerpts from a selection of the interviews are now available online via the University’s 50th Anniversary website at The full collection of interviews will be available via the York Digital Library later this year. 

Notes to editors:

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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