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Cambridge University Archives

Hinc lucem et pocula sacra

Translation: From this place we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge "

University motto
Cambridge University Archives


The University Archives is responsible for the selection, transfer and preservation of the internal, administrative records of the University of Cambridge (est. 1209), dating from 1266 to the present, and for making them available for administrative and research purposes. The University Archives aims to provide a full and richly varied picture over time of the University's organisation and governance, its key functions and activities, major developments and achievements.  From modest beginnings, housed alongside other valuables in the University chest, the archives now occupy ca 3000 metres of shelving at the University Library.

The archives are as diverse as the activities - self governance, teaching and research, property management, administration of justice, external relations - the University has pursued down the centuries. They include charters, statutes and title deeds, records of its legislative and executive bodies, central administration, Syndicates and committees, departments and faculties, students and law courts.

Our presence in the Digital Library begins with two significant manuscripts. The first is a volume of inventories of books, records and other movable property of the University, ca 1420-1660, including the earliest surviving catalogues of the archives and the library. This item featured in the University Library exhibition to celebrate its 600th anniversary, Lines of Thought: Discoveries that changed the world March-September 2016. The second is the magnificently illuminated two volume Book of privileges and liberties of the University of Cambridge, commissioned by alumnus Robert Hare (ca 1530-1611), and presented to the University in 1590. It comprises copies by a professional scribe of transcripts by Hare of royal charters, letters patent and other documents granting and confirming the University's privileges, partly from the University's records, but chiefly from those of central government in the Tower. The documents are arranged by reign, King Arthur to Queen Elizabeth.