For Archive Users

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Churchill Archives Centre: Collecting policy

1. Aims, purpose and objectives

The mission of Churchill Archives Centre is to collect, preserve and make available archival material to support education, learning and research. We collect archives from ‘the Churchill Era and beyond’ which meet the criteria of this Collecting Policy. This policy states and communicates the principles that guide collection development and acquisition activities.

The objectives of the Collecting Policy are:

This policy is subordinate to the Churchill Archives Centre Mission Statement

2. Methods of acquisition

The Centre actively collects the personal archives of prominent individuals, and of individuals who have been involved in prominent events, which are unique archives that do not pass automatically to the National Archives. The Centre also holds Churchill College’s own archive, the college’s administrative record, which is transferred routinely by Churchill College.

3. Criteria for selection

The Archives Centre accepts primary source material which significantly adds to or complements its existing collections, or which falls within its collecting criteria, defined as follows:

3.1 Sir Winston Churchill and the Spencer-Churchill family


3.2 Political Life and Government Policy, 1850 to the present

3.3 Military strategy and foreign policy, 1850 to the present

3.4 Science and Technology, 1850 to the present

To qualify scientists/technologists must have had an influence on government policy or public life or have been responsible for scientific discoveries and developments which have had an impact on government policy and public life.

3.5 Journalism, media, social comment and  observation, 1850 to the present

To qualify, the material must include substantial observation, record or social survey comment on individuals or events of national/ international significance, or comment or influence on public policy and impact of political, military, social or scientific change. 

3.6 The history of Churchill College, especially the personal papers of prominent figures connected with Churchill College, and records of life at college

The parameters of the Collecting Policy remain wide and flexible. The prime criteria by which papers will be accepted are that of importance and research value. This will be judged by the Director and his team, in consultation, if necessary, with the Churchill College Archives Committee and/or academic experts in the relevant fields.

4. Format and types of material

The Centre’s holdings are chiefly hard copy (paper) but it collects archives in a range of formats - paper, digital, photographic and audio-visual. We do not seek to acquire artefacts except in exceptional circumstances or where they are deemed integral to the archival collection.

The Archives Centre assesses each collection on the merit of the content of the archive. The Archives Centre does not routinely seek to acquire personal financial and property records, works of art, newspapers, published materials, and photocopies and surrogates of material held elsewhere, whatever the status of the individual or institution generating such material. The Archives Centre will seek to liaise with potential depositors and to advise on what should/should not be permanently preserved.

5. National framework

The Archives Centre works within the wider national archival framework to ensure that complete collections are housed in the most appropriate repository and may seek advice from Archives Sector Development at the National Archives. This may mean steering potential donors/ depositors towards other repositories that already house similar material or indeed that already hold material relating to a particular individual or organisation.

6. Covering dates

The Archives Centre seeks to collect material relating to the ‘Churchill era and beyond’ (meaning the life of Sir Winston Churchill, 1874-1965, to the present day). In practice, our starting point is 1900, although we would not reject part of a collection because it pre-dated 1900.

7. Deaccessioning

The Archives Centre reserves the right to apply similar selection criteria to the collections it already holds, but recognises that any de-accessioning must be handled sensitively, and that the depositors or their heirs must be informed and offered back unwanted material wherever possible. De-accessioned archival material should be returned, offered to another repository or destroyed, and not sold (without the express permission of the owner and due regard to the ethical considerations). In the exceptional case that a whole collection is to be deaccessioned, the Director of the Archives Centre must seek the formal approval of the Archives Committee.

8. Status of collections

The Archives Centre seeks to acquire material as gift. A long term loan can be considered, especially as a precursor to acceptance in lieu of tax, but the Archives Centre will not take material on a temporary basis unless there is an exceptional reason for doing so (such as a short-term commercial arrangement).

The Archives Centre will not seek and does not have the financial resources to purchase collections, although it may encourage trusts and individuals to purchase material on the understanding that the material is then presented to the Archives Centre as a gift or long term loan.

9. Contact with donors and intellectual property

The Archives Centre encourages donors and depositors to consider giving the College such personal copyrights and intellectual property rights as they may own in the archives in order to facilitate research use, and encourages them to consider supporting the long-term future of the collection. The Archives Centre also seeks to maintain contact with donors and depositors.

Reviewed by: Andrew Riley
Date: 30 September 2019
Approved by Senior Management Team for October 2019 Archives Committee meeting
Date of next review: October 2020

Further Information

Allen Packwood
Churchill Archives Centre
Telephone (01223) 336175