Primary contactBorthwick Institute for Archives University of York Heslington
GB YO10 5DD
If you would like to arrange to come and view our archives or wish to contact us to order copies, please visit our website
The Borthwick Institute of Historical Research was established in 1953 and was run by the Academic Development Committee of York Civic Trust (to 1956) and then by the York Academic Trust (1956-1963). These were both independent bodies which had no national or local government support.
The Borthwick Institute was founded as part of a programme of academic activities designed to support the city of York's campaign for a university, to provide more suitable accommodation for the York Diocesan Archive and to make this archive publicly available to scholars for the first time. The Borthwick was supported by an endowment, the Borthwick Trust, and was situated at St Anthony's Hall, Peasholme Green, York. The Borthwick became part of the new University of York in October 1963.
In 2005 the Borthwick’s new £6.5m state-of-the-art accommodation opened on the University of York’s Heslington campus. The new building was supported by a major grant of £4,415,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In the same year the Borthwick merged with the University Library. It was renamed the Borthwick Institute for Archives and became part of the University Library and Archives.
The Borthwick Institute provides a records management and archive service for the corporate records of its parent body, and leads on the University's Data Protection and Freedom of Information compliance. In 2012 the Borthwick Institute began to establish a digital archive at the Borthwick Institute with the appointment of a Digital Archivist.
The Borthwick Institute for Archives is a purpose-built archive repository which opened in 2005. The building was built to BS5454 (2000) [and complies with PD 5454:2012]. It stands three storeys high, sitting adjacent to the Burton Library. The ground floor contains the main archive strongroom with 1000m³ of usable space, and a cold room for the dedicated storage of photographic material. The first floor has an additional 300m³ archive store with the rest of this level open to the public, containing the searchroom and a microform room. The second floor links to the adjoining library via an exhibition space, which leads to a lifelong learning area for lectures,classes and volunteer groups. The second floor also houses the Institute’s back of house activities. There is an accessions room where new archives are processed, a conservation studio with a dedicated area for the application of wet conservation techniques, and an isolation room for treating documents affected by mould or infested by insects. Also on this floor are offices and staff ancillary spaces.
The building design achieves optimum environmental conditions by maximising its passive controls. This keeps the need for mechanical intervention at a minimum. The strongrooms are constructed of thick concrete walls to create two large boxes with high thermal mass. The rooms contain computerised racks each of which can be opened and closed independently. The structural mass is used to dampen diurnal changes that occur outside the strongrooms, and absorption of any heat gains within them. The concrete construction allows the spaces to breathe, allowing moisture and heat to transfer slowly through the mass. Air handling and treatment units maintain temperatures and relative humidity levels within ranges prescribed by the British Standard for those areas where documents are stored and used.
Both the strongrooms and cold store are contained within four-hour fire boxes. A VESDA fire and smoke detection system protects the strongrooms and cold store. All lights and windows have ultraviolet filters, allowing the building’s users sufficient light to see the documents while limiting the levels and impact of ultraviolet light.
The Borthwick Institute also oversees a dedicated store for modern media, located within the adjacent Fairhurst Library building.
The Borthwick Institute’s online finding aids and resources can be accessed from its website (http://www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/holdings/how-to-search/). The Archives Information Policy sets out what researchers can expect in relation to the information we provide about the archives in our care: https://www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/policy/
Earlier published guides include:
(i) David M. Smith, A Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute (Borthwick Texts and Calendars, Records of the Northern Province 1, University of York, 1973).
(ii) David M. Smith, A Supplementary Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute (Borthwick Texts and Calendars, Records of the Northern Province 7, University of York, 1980).
(iii) A. Buchanan, A Guide to Archival Accessions at The Borthwick Institute 1981-1996 (Borthwick List and Index 19, University of York, 1997).
(iv) A guide to the southern African archives in the University of York, compiled by Tom Lodge; edited by Anne V. Akeroyd & Colin P. Lunt (1979).
Information on new accessions has been submitted on a yearly basis to The National Archives.
The Borthwick Institute has also produced a number of published series. They include monographs, collected essays and guides to archival resources and to published research. http://www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/publications/
The publication series include:
(i) Borthwick Papers (Series of short monographs dealing with an aspect of history in the north of England)
(ii) Borthwick Texts and Studies (Editions and studies of historical sources)
(iii) Borthwick Palaeography Guides (Practical guides offers help to those learning to read historic handwriting)
(iv) Borthwick Studies in History (Collection of conference proceedings)
(v) Borthwick Lists and Indexes (Printed guides to archive records held at the Borthwick).
In print publications are available from the University’s Online Store (https://store.york.ac.uk/).
The Access to Archives Policy also sets out the basis on which we provide access to the archives in our care: https://www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/policy/.
Location and travel: Details on finding and travelling to the Borthwick Institute can be found on the Borthwick Institute’s website ( http://www.york.ac.uk/borthwick/visiting-us/before/#tab-3).
(1) Access within the building: A lift is available to the searchrooms and teaching rooms.
For visitors with a mobility impairment who are coming by car, we recommend parking in one of the following locations.
Campus Central Car Park, where there is a lift to take you onto the Library Bridge
Campus North Car Park, where there is a lift in front of the Fairhurst Building which you can use to access the path round to the University Library main entrance.
Hearing induction loops are installed in the searchroom reception and lifelong learning rooms.
Accessible toilets are available on the ground floor of the Burton Library - the entrance is by the stairs leading to the Borthwick’s searchrooms.
Adjustable height tables are available within the searchroom and microform room.