Accessibility statement

The Student Life Collection

What are we doing?

Black logo on a white background, stating '60 years'

We want to expand the University’s own archive to help document the York student experience over time. We are keen to build a richer, more diverse and representative record of student life, societies, activism and community which will act as a lasting historical resource to engage and inspire others.

The Borthwick Institute for Archives holds documents detailing more than 800 years of the history of the city and region. The University Archive traces the campaign for a university, its establishment and administration. We want to create an exciting and even richer archive to recognise the wider experience and communities of students, the challenges they faced, and document the past work of YUSU, the GSA and student societies.

The Student Life Collection will help the University Archive to reflect more fully the different identities, experiences and voices of students and student groups across its 60 years.

Documenting university life from the student perspective

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

There is not, and never was, a typical ‘York student’ or a single York experience. We are keen to ensure the breadth and variety of this experience and these groups can be seen and preserved in the University Archive. This will help us to better reflect York’s diverse communities and past. 

What types of records would we like?

The records could be 

  • Student publications (especially issues of student newspapers and magazines missing from our catalogue, fliers and pamphlets)
  • Publicity material relating to University and/or student events (posters, programmes, fliers)
  • Photographs (of activities and events, campus, study rooms and decor, arriving at University, college photos, on-campus events and gigs)
  • Letters home or relevant journal or diary entries (from the time and about life at University); 
  • Papers from student societies (e.g. meeting minutes, photographs, publicity material etc.)
  • SU/YUSU/JCR minutes and publications (meeting minutes, reports, presentations, yearbooks, handbooks, alternative prospectuses, records relating to campaigns) 
  • Posters (campus events, student productions etc)
  • Video/film and sound recordings (e.g. early URY/YSTV programmes, footage of campus, events such as RAG week, college life, elections and hustings, campaigns) 
  • Campus fliers/documents/photos and manifestos relating to campaigns, sit-ins, protest, student activism/campaigns, charitable and fundraising or awareness-raising events/initiatives
  • Poetry/prose from the time relating to student/University life
  • Records that help capture student entrepreneurship, and student business or social enterprise.

We can accept digital and physical records. All offers of items (including those outside the above categories) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Material that we cannot usually accept includes:

  • Student work (e.g. essays, dissertations)
  • Objects, textiles etc. (e.g. University scarves)
  • Tickets for events/dinners

If you have items you think we might like and are happy to donate to the archive, please complete the form or contact us at

We particularly encourage submissions from groups and those whose history, voices or backgrounds 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 higher education much later in life.

Why donate?

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 relevant historical materials will build the Student Life Collection and help complete our runs of student publications. It makes a lasting contribution that will enrich our community’s collective memory and adds to a more inclusive historical and cultural record.

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

What are the terms of deposit?

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.

What formats do we prefer for digital records?

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)

What will happen to my material?

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. You will appreciate that 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.

Who will be able to see my record?

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 or confidential or relates to others, please let us know and we will discuss this with you further. This will help us consider appropriate safeguards.

How do I offer material?

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 of the number of items). We’ll then get in touch with you with a response or any questions.


Any questions?

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