Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York

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Identity area



Authorized form of name

Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name

  • Borthwick Institute | BIA | Borthwick Institute of Historical Research | BIHR


  • University

Contact area





Street address

Borthwick Institute for Archives
University of York




Country name

United Kingdom

Postal code

YO10 5DD


+ 44 (0)1904 321166



Description area


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.

Geographical and cultural context

A university repository based on the Heslington campus of the University of York, with archives of regional, national or international importance.

Mandates/Sources of authority

The Borthwick Institute for Archives:
(i) is part of the University of York. Under its Charter of Incorporation, the University is a self-governing institution with charitable status and objectives to 'advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research'.
(ii) is appointed as a place of deposit under s (4)1 of the Public Records Act 1958 (amended 1967) for specific categories of public record, namely legal, court and health records
(iii) has been approved as meeting the standards required by The National Archives Standard for Record Repositories (2004) and has been awarded accredited archive status by the National Archives.
(iv) is approved for the custody of tithe records under the Tithe (Copies of Instruments of Apportionment) Rules 1960, as amended by the Tithe (Copies of Instruments of Apportionment) (Amendment) Rules 1963 and manorial documents under the manorial documents rules 1926 (amended 1959, 1963 and 1967).
(v) is designated by the archbishop of York as a repository for the records of the diocese of York and is the recognised place of deposit for Church of England parochial records in the modern archdeaconry of York under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure, 1929 and 1978, and the amendment of 1992.
(vi) is the designated repository for other organisations such as the York Methodist Circuit
(vii) is the designated repository for the archival records of its parent body, the University of York.
(viii) is a repository with holdings subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Administrative structure

The Borthwick Institute for Archives is part of the Information Services Directorate within the University of York.

Records management and collecting policies

The Records Management policy can be viewed online at:
The Archives Development Policy sets out how we develop our archive holdings, including what we collect, how we make decisions on what we collect and the terms on which we collect archives:


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.


An overview of our archive holdings is given at

Finding aids, guides and publications

The Borthwick Institute’s online finding aids and resources can be accessed from its website ( The Archives Information Policy sets out what researchers can expect in relation to the information we provide about the archives in our care:

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.

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 (

Access area

Access conditions and requirements Searchroom rules:

The Access to Archives Policy also sets out the basis on which we provide access to the archives in our care:


Location and travel: Details on finding and travelling to the Borthwick Institute can be found on the Borthwick Institute’s website (

(1) Access within the building: A lift is available to the searchrooms and teaching rooms.

(2) Parking:
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.

(3) Facilities:
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.

Services area

Public areas

The Borthwick Institute has the following facilities:

  • Lockers are available in the searchroom reception area.
  • Toilets and accessible toilets are available in the adjacent Burton Library.
  • The University campus has a wide variety of places to purchase refreshments or a meal. The Library Cafe is closest to the Borthwick.
  • Visitors are welcome to use the Morrell Lounge on the ground floor, near the main Library entrance, to eat and drink and use their phone. For the safety of the archives, no food or drink is permitted in the Borthwick's searchrooms.
  • The University’s wireless network allows anyone with a University of York username and password to get free internet access in our searchrooms. Wifi is also available for students, researchers and staff whose organisations participate in the Eduroam network. CityConnect is a free wifi maintained by City of York Council and Pinacl Networks and available for visitors who don't have a University affiliation.
  • Exhibition Area. The exhibition area is open the same hours as the Burton Library, and can be found on the third floor.
  • The University Library is open to non-University users 24 hours a day except Christmas and Boxing Day.
  • Cash machines and a supermarket are available in Market Square, close to the Central Car Park.

Control area

Description identifier

Archon Code: GB 193

Institution identifier

The National Archives: ARCHON Directory

Rules and/or conventions used

ISDIAH – International Standard for Describing Institutions with Archival Holdings, 1st ed., International Council on Archives, 2008.



Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created 2014-11-29 [ISO 8601]; last revision 2018-05-24.


  • English


  • Arabic


Borthwick Institute website:
C.J. Kitching, Archive Buildings in the United Kingdom 1993-2005 (2007), pp.130-131, 137

Maintenance notes

Access points

Access Points

  • Clipboard

Primary contact

Borthwick Institute for Archives University of York Heslington