Archives and Special Collections

University of Leicester archives

The University of Leicester was founded in 1921 as Leicestershire and Rutland University College, by a committee of local residents who wanted it to stand as a memorial to those who had served in the First World War. The site for the College was donated by a wealthy local textile manufacturer, Thomas Fielding Johnson and many others donated their time and money to found the college and keep it running.

In 1927, after it became University College, Leicester, students sat the examinations for external degrees of the University of London. The Working Men's College founded by Reverend David Vaughan in 1862 merged with the University College 1929 to provide extra-mural classes. In 1957 the college was granted its Royal Charter, and has since then had the status of a University with the right to award its own degrees. For more on our history, please see the University History Project pages.

The University Archives contain the institutional records of the University of Leicester and its predecessor bodies and affiliated bodies. It is material created or gathered by staff, students and alumni that reflect what the University has done over time. As you can imagine for an archive of nearly 100 years old, the collection is fairly large, so we give a unique reference to each item to help identify it. The references all start with "ULA" for University of Leicester Archive, usually followed by another letter and then numbers, to indicate the different sections which reflect how the archive was created and used. To search, browse or see a ‘tree’ of the catalogued records, please visit our archive catalogue. There is some information about the catalogue and how to search it.

We aim to catalogue everything to a useful level of detail but, for example, every name or event recorded in a minute book is not indexed, so you may need to think about the records which hold the kind of information that you are looking for, and search for the series of records instead of individual names. Not all of the material is catalogued or published onto our online catalogue so if you are having trouble finding something, please ask us.

The records that are used the most include minute books (covering the formation of the College onwards, from 1919); press cuttings books; photographs; and publications, including prospectuses, degree ceremony programmes, staff and student handbooks and newsletters.

You can access digitised photographs and documents from our archives, and copies of official publications our our Special Collections Online website. 

Certificates and transcripts

Replacement degree certificates and transcripts are not supplied from the University Archives. These can be purchased via our online shop. For further information, please email or phone 0116 252 2448.

How to search the University Archive

You can search descriptions of the contents of the University Archives via our archives catalogue. Please be aware that not all of the archive has been catalogued, so please contact us if you are unable to locate what you are looking for. Most of the archive has not been digitised. You can search for photographs and other items that can be accessed online via Special Collections Online.  

How to access the University Archive

Our rare books and archives are open to all and can be consulted in the Special Collections reading room. Find out how to book your place and order material.

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