Manuscripts and Special Collections

University College Collection


  Trent Building, UMP/1/13/12

The University College archive is a large collection offering enormous research and study potential across a range of academic disciplines.

The collection is made up of a number of different accessions, principally from the Registrars department. As material was transferred to the archives at different times the cataloguing of the collection was not uniform, with some material being catalogued in depth and other material catalogued in less detail. The cataloguing has now been rationalised with all material placed in a new ‘University College’ collection. Where previously catalogued material had been given a UR reference number those numbers have been retained. Material which has been newly catalogued has been given a UCN reference number. Records which relate to the University of Nottingham rather than the old University College form a separate collection.

The catalogue of the University College of Nottingham collection (UCN) is available online and is searchable through the Manuscripts Online Catalogue.


Official records of the College

The University College of Nottingham was in existence from 1881 to 1948, when it became the University of Nottingham. The University College archive contains the official records of the University College. Coverage of the first twenty years of the College’s life is sparse with the majority of material dating from 1900 onwards. The first transfer of College archives to Manuscripts and Special Collections was made from the Registrars department in 1964. Records created after the College’s conversion into a University in 1948 are held in a separate collection.

A particularly noteworthy series of records is those relating to the governance and administration of the College. Initially the University College was administered by the Nottingham Corporation (the town council), overseen by a management committee comprised of town councillors, the town mayor and prominent local citizens. In 1904 the University College Council was established, again dominated by Nottingham Corporation members. A Court of Governors was also appointed. There is a complete set of minute books for the Committee, College Council and Court. These are to be found in three series: University College and Free Library Committee Minutes; 1877-1904, (UCN/G/2), University College Nottingham Minutes; 1904-1919, (UCN/G/3) and Court, Council, and Committee Minutes; 1913-1947, (UCN/G/4).

College staff had very little influence initially in the governance of the University College. It was not until 1887 that a Board of Professors was established to manage the details of the educational work of the college. The minute book from this Board survives, (UCN/G/7). In practice the Board of Professors was given very little authority, with all major decisions remaining firstly in the hands of the University College Committee and then the Council. The Board of Professors was abolished and replaced with a Senate following the incorporation of the University College in 1903. Minute books of the Senate survive (with gaps) from 1911. (UCN/G/6).

At the same time as the creation of the Board of Professors, the post of the Principal was established. The collection contains Principal’s papers and correspondence for four of the six Principals of University College, Principals W. H. Heaton, H. Stewart and H. A. S. Wortley and Acting Principal R. Peers (UCN/A/6). No papers survive for the first two Principals, F. Clowes and J. E. Symes.


Departmental records

Departmental records are not evenly weighted within the collection, with more records surviving for some departments than others. The main bulk of the departmental records can be found in the Teaching and Learning series, (UCN/T). Other material relating to the work of departments can be found amongst the the Registrar's Correspondence (UR 121-895). The departments that are best represented in the archive are the Elementary Training Department and the Adult Education Department.


Student Records

For information on students who undertook their teacher training at the University College see the separate section below.

Material relating to students can, unsurprisingly, be found in many places within the University College Collection. Information relating to students occurs frequently within the Registrar’s Correspondence Files. These were files maintained by the Registrar’s Department, which was responsible for the administration of the College. The files cover the whole range of business relating to the running of the College. Among the files specifically relating to students are:

  • Papers concerning the academic particulars of students, 1925-1940. (UR 748-749). These give the name of students, the course studied and the grade achieved.
  • Degree results, 1924-1932. (UR 379).
  • Papers concerning the qualifications and post-graduate employment of ex-service students, 1924. (UR 433). These list students whose courses finished between 1919 and 1923.
  • Papers relating to grants for students, 1933-1950 (with gaps). (UR 454-455).
  • Admissions to the college, 1940-1947. (UR 132). These also give the names of students returning to the college in 1945.
  • Papers relating to international students, 1935-1948. (UR 252-255).
  • Papers relating to the Cambridge Local and School Certificate examinations, 1921-1926 and 1932-1937. (UR 271 and UR 274). These give the names of candidates and the subjects taken.
  • Files relating to Foremanship Courses, 1944-1945. (UR 330). These provide exam results and the names of those attending lectures.
  • Entry forms for exams in Engineering, Textiles and Mining, 1937-1946. (UR 393).
  • London Accountancy Exams, 1922-1930. (UR 511-512). These include lists of candidates.

This list is by no means exhaustive and care should be taken to search through the catalogue of the Registrar’s Correspondence Files (UR 121-895) to see if they contain material of interest to your research.

Records relating specifically to students can also be found in the Student Administration series (UCN/S). This large series includes Student Registers, 1881-1948 (with gaps), (UCN/S/1-UCN/S/5).

Student testimonials can be found in the Registrar's Correspondence files, 1923-1935, (UR 778-781), in files of papers created under the authority of the Registrar's department, 1928-1934, (UR 974) and in the Principal's Papers, 1930-1935, (UCN/A/6/4/33 and UCN/A/6/5/80) and 1937-1947, (UCN/A/6/5/76-78 and UCN/A/6/5/82-83).

Please note that due to the personal information contained in these papers an 80 year closure period has been applied to some of the files. Please contact the department for advice if you wish to consult these files.


Teacher Training at University College

A significant amount of material survives for the College’s Elementary Training Department, later renamed the Education Department. Established in 1890, Nottingham was one of the country’s first day training colleges for teachers. Pupils in the department studied a combination of educational theory and academic subjects and did teaching practice in local schools. Initially students attended a two year course, the successful completion of which gained them a Teacher’s Certificate. From 1911 students could choose either the two year course or a new four year course, of which three years were spent on a degree course and the final year spent on teacher training. The two schemes ran concurrently until 1934 when the two year course began to be phased out, ending completely in 1937. Until that time students in the Elementary Training Department could therefore either choose the two year course and qualify with a teacher’s certificate, or choose the four year course and qualify with a degree (from the University of London) and a teacher’s certificate.


Student records

It should be noted that there are many gaps in these records and people seeking information on their relatives may be disappointed. In general the first twenty-five years of the department are the most poorly represented with most records dating from the 1920s and 1930s. Researchers should use the manuscripts online catalogue in the first instance and if in doubt contact the department.

Researchers interested in student records may need to look in a number of different places within the collection in order to find relevant material. Student registers covering the period 1906-1927 can be found at UCN/T/1/4/1-20. There are no registers for any other years but students’ names can be found in a number of other sources including class attendance registers for the 1920s, (UR 1402/2), admission forms from successful applicants, 1925-1934 (UR 942-953) and 1931-1939 (with gaps) (UR 975-978), register of students taking examinations, 1929, (UR 198) and papers concerning student registration, 1934-1947, (UR 650).

Those who are interested in finding out more about their relative’s performance and achievements at college can consult class reports, examination results or testimonials. None of these different types of records cover the entire existence of the College’s Training Department. The collection includes class reports for male and female students 1895-1896 (UCN/T/1/4/21-22) and 1915-1921 (with gaps), (UR 1404/3). There is also a group of reports on students’ practical teaching ability for the years 1922-1933, (UR 1050-1058). There are files relating specifically to the teaching practice of students on the two year course, 1932-1939, (UR 350-352). A small series of examination results exist covering the years 1925-1930, (UR 1411) and a register covering the years 1932-1939 (UCN/T/1/4/27). There are also series of files relating to the Cambridge Certificate in Education, 1939-1947 (with gaps). These files (UR 266-270) include lists of students, exam results and their place of teaching practice. There are also lists of succesful candidates for the Cambridge Teacher Training examination, 1923-1938, (UR 277-285). The reports on female students, 1915-1917, also include copies of the first year exam results (UR 1404/3/2 and UR 1404/3/5). A limited number of volumes containing student testimonials survive (with gaps) for 1924-1933, (UCN T/1/2/1-4).

Information about students who served in the First World War and subsequently enrolled in the Elementary Training Department of the University College may be contained amongst the papers relating to the payment of grants to ex-service students. The Government Scheme for the Higher Education of Ex-Service Students came into operation on 1st January 1919 with the deadline for submissions being 30th June 1920. The aim of the scheme was to restore the supply of men with higher general and professional attainments. Grants were paid to ex-servicemen to undertake training or education courses. The Board of Education was given responsibility for those applicants who wished to enrol in universities and colleges. Papers relating to the payment of grants under this scheme to University College students can be found at UR 1405.

Further information about where to find records relating to students, including those in the teacher training department, can be found in the Student Records section above.



The collection contains a number of photographs of the University College, (UR 1353-1398). The vast majority of these photographs are of College buildings but there are a small number of photographs of staff and students, including various sports teams.


Records post 1948

Records post 1948 can be found in the University of Nottingham collection.

Next page: Timeline

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651