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Archives of the Faculty of History, 1876 - 1999

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/HIST

Scope and Contents

The records document the full range of institutional operations, from delivery of the curriculum and examining at undergraduate and graduate level, to design and upkeep of the faculty buildings. Papers on Tripos reform are particularly extensive. They include the papers of the Cambridge Historical Society.


  • Creation: 1876 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

Within the archives of the Faculty of History, personal records are closed to scholars for 80 years from the date of creation under data protection legislation. Certain other records are closed to scholars for 30 years from the date of creation under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000: Section 41 information provided in confidence. Restrictions are clearly indicated as part of individual catalogue entries.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to publish text should be addressed to the Keeper of University Archives, photographs to the Head of Digital Content Unit. Both at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR.

Biographical / Historical

The Regius Professorship of Modern History was instituted by George I in 1724. The professor was to maintain, out of his stipend of £400, at least two teachers of modern languages who were to give free instruction to twenty scholars nominated by the King, one of the aims being to equip graduates for diplomatic service. This aspect of the endowment soon fell into disuse. The professor was also to give public lectures. Before the mid-nineteenth century, the Chair was occupied by diverse individuals, among them the poet Thomas Gray and novelist Charles Kingsley, few of whom were interested in historical study. With the development of the discipline internationally however and the broadening of the undergraduate curriculum, the subject began to be more formally studied. It was examined as part of the Moral Sciences Tripos from 1851-67. From 1870-4 it was examined as a joint Tripos with Law. From 1875, History was established as an independent Tripos. The Board charged with overseeing the Tripos and appointing teachers in the subject had no permanent independent home until the building of the History Faculty on the Sidgwick Site in the mid 1960s. Instead, in the early decades, it met in the Syndicate Room in the Old Schools, other University Offices or the Chairman's College. Similarly, academic staff taught and lectured in University rooms all over Cambridge or in their own Colleges. The Seeley Memorial Library was accommodated at King's College from 1891 until 1913 when it became the core of a departmental library housed initially on the second floor of the University Lecture Rooms on Bene't Street and later in the Cockerell Building. In 1963, the design of a new History Faculty building, which would include accommodation for the Library, was the subject of a limited competition. The winning design was conceived by James Stirling (1926-92). The building was completed in 1968 and awarded a R.I.B.A. (Royal Institute of British Architects) Gold Medal in 1970. For background information on the development of historical studies, see Peter R.H. Slee Learning and a liberal education: the study of Modern History in the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester 1800-1914 (Manchester University Press: Manchester, 1986).


25 linear metre(s) : paper

Language of Materials



The records are arranged in categories corresponding to the Faculty's broad functions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records were transferred from the Faculty by Mr Julian Evans, Administrator, on 23 October 2002. These records are a permanent transfer to the University Archives. The Historical Society papers (now catalogued as HIST 6/12-14) were presented to G.W.J. Rennie, Faculty Secretary and Society Treasurer and thence to the Faculty, by Professor Geoffrey Elton's estate in March 2002. HIST 2/12A was presented by Professor D.E.D. Beales in 1999. HIST 2/75 was presented by Professor J. Caplan on 6 Sept. 2012. HIST 2/76 was presented by Anna Day on 11 Aug. 2016.


The records were appraised before transfer in accordance with the departmental records retention schedule.


Regular future transfers are planned.

Related Materials

For further related material among the University Archives, see UA CUR 28.10, 28.10.1; Min.VI.36, IX.52; ML 24; O.XIV.97, 260, 277.


The online catalogue was completed in April 2003 and emended in February and October 2005, June 2006, January 2013 and October 2016.


Faculty of History

Finding aid date

2002-10-31 09:03:23+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom