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1. Purpose of Policy

This policy sets out basic principles and guidelines for managing St George’s Archives & Special Collections.  The policy provides a primary framework for all other Archives & Special Collections policies. 

2. Mission Statement

The Archive collection supports the teaching and research activities of SGUL, and enables research and learning by individuals external to the University. The Archive’s activities are informed by the University’s strategy, focusing on providing excellent information and learning resources that enhance knowledge, inspire education, and promote the work and achievements of the University.

3. Purpose and Aims of the Archives & Special Collections 

St George’s Archives and Special Collections (hereafter “the Archive”) collects, preserves and makes accessible unique collections documenting the history, functions and development of St George’s, University of London (hereafter “SGUL” or the “University”).  Informed by the University’s strategy, the Archive aims to preserve and use these collections: 

  • To support the University’s mission in sharing knowledge and inspiring education
  • To increase access to resources and support new research and learning both internally and externally
  • To provide evidence of the substantive work and achievements of the University
  • To grow the reputation of the University by promoting our history via public engagement programmes. 

The Archive also aims to make accessible the history of St George’s Hospital which has a closely shared history with the University.  Although the majority of Hospital records have been deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives, an important series of records remain at SGUL. 

4. Management of the Archive

The Archive is managed by a professionally qualified Archivist and is part of the Library team, which falls under Information Services.  The Archivist reports directly to the Head of Library and Learning Services. 

The collections are housed in the Archive Store in the Jenner Wing Basement. 

The Archivist is a member of the SGUL Heritage Group. This group meets twice yearly and aims to encourage discussion and promote awareness of archive and heritage related matters. 

5. Collection Statement

Archives are groups of records (in any medium or format) created by individuals or institutions in the course of their life or business which provide evidence of their main activities and have been selected to be retained permanently. 

Special Collections are groups of books, artefacts, individual manuscripts or ephemeral items which are regarded as special because of their age, subject, rarity, fragility, provenance, association and/or financial value.  They are kept together as a collection to preserve context which would otherwise be lost or because of their condition or rarity. 

The Archives & Special Collections holds a rich range of material including: 

  • Minutes of the School Council, Academic Board and other committees
  • Student registers which include the names of our famous alumni
  • Student nurses records
  • Publications including School yearbooks and Hospital magazines
  • Photographs of students, staff and former hospital sites
  • Personal papers of former staff and professors
  • Artefacts including historic surgical instruments
  • Artworks
  • Manuscripts
  • Oral history interview recordings with former students and staff
  • Rare and historic books from the original medical school library.

Although the majority of St George’s Hospital records have been deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives, an important series of records remain in the Archive Store including: 

  • Post mortem case books
  • Pathology registers

6. Collections Development

The university will develop its collections strategically and sustainably through acquisition and a robust records management programme.  Materials deemed suitable for the Archive is decided by the Archivist, who works in line with the Archives & Special Collections Collection Development Policy.  The Archivist has final say on the materials collected and stored in the Archive. 

7. Access 

Access to the collections is provided in line with the Archives & Special Collections Access Policy. 

The University aims to promote access to our collections internally and externally. 

Access is by advance appointment only. There are occasions when the Archives & Special Collections service will be unavailable due to limited staff resources so appointments are necessary. 

On their first visit, readers will be asked to complete a reader registration form. They will also be required to show one form of suitable photographic ID, for example a valid driving license or passport, or photo student card. 

8. Enquiries 

The Archivist will answer enquiries by email, telephone or letter. It is not possible to undertake lengthy or complex research enquiries on the behalf of researchers. Researchers will be asked to visit in person or to hire a professional researcher to undertake research on their behalf. 

Aim to respond to enquiries within 14 working days. Where this timeframe will not be met, an acknowledgment of the enquiry will be sent.  

9. User Handling Guidelines 

The Archivist will supply archive users with handling guidelines which must be adhered to.  These guidelines are designed to minimise the risk of damage to the archive collections so as to preserve them for future use.

10. Reproductions

Any reproductions made from materials in the Archives & Special Collections will be done so in line with copyright regulations.

Due to the fragile nature of much of the University’s archive material, many items should not be photocopied. Scanning will only be undertaken by trained staff. 

There are some items that cannot be scanned or photocopied as this would cause damage to the material. This decision is at the discretion of the Archivist. 

The Archivist will consider alternative arrangements for the duplication of material under special circumstances.

 The use of digital cameras and camera phones is only allowed with consent from the Archivist. Readers must complete a photography form. The use of hand-held scanners is not permitted. 

11. Collections Care 

The primary responsibility of the Archive staff is to ensure the archives are safe and protected against physical deterioration and damage. 

As the University does not employ a professional conservator nor has the required facilities on-site, the advice and help of a professionally qualified, ICON-registered conservator will be sought if and when necessary.

The Archive will strive to provide an appropriate climate of temperature, relative humidity and light levels in a pollution and pest-free environment that achieves a satisfactory balance between the long-term preservation of the objects and specimens, and accessibility to staff and users. 

As far as possible, the archives will be stored in compliance with the requirements of the following standards: 

European Standard EN 16893:2018 Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Specifications for location, construction and modification of buildings or rooms intended for the storage or use of heritage collections 

British Standard BS 4971:2017 Conservation & Care of Archive & Library Collections 

12. Ethical and Legal Standards

Data Protection legislation

Freedom of Information Act (2000)

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Public Records Act (1958) 

13. Policy Review Procedure

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Archivist to ensure that it meets the University’s operational and legal requirements.


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