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Archives & Special Collections

The University Archives & Special Collections are rare and unique, they include original letters and artwork, with particular strengths in arts activism, animation and photography.

The collections offer inspiration and research opportunities, and are available to all staff and students by appointment, whether you fancy taking a look at Roobarb in the animation archive of Bob Godfrey, interested in the history of the university, or wanting to the learn more about the activist collections, including the work of photographer Tessa Boffin.

Special Collections
The special collections contain rare books and journals that reflect UCA’s cultural heritage, from the early days of our founding schools of arts and crafts to our current diverse and distinctive disciplines.

Providing inspiration and context to support research, teaching, and learning in fine art, printmaking, architecture, animation, film studies, fashion, textiles, ceramics, glass, photography, graphic design, and illustration.

undefined Archives are original records of value kept permanently, naturally accumulated or generated by an individual or organisation within their or its lifetime regardless of format. Materials in an archive are often unique, specialised, or rare objects, meaning very few of them exist in the world, or they are the only ones of their kind. These are called primary source material.

An archive can hold both published and unpublished materials. However archive material is generally seen as documents that reflect process - information by-products of activity, which are accumulated or created in the course of doing business in order to facilitate the business process of which they are a part. For example, governor minutes and prospectuses are documents produced by a university and will provide insight into how a university is run.

An archive can be made of any format - physical material, such as paper, parchment, analogue photographs, paintings, drawings, acetate cels and digitally born records, which are records that started life in a digital format, such websites, emails, or social media - Twitter, Facebook or Flickr.

There are different types of archival records which include correspondence, sketchbooks, draft manuscripts, letters, diaries, photographs, emails, websites, sound, VHS, speeches, interviews, news film footage.

Archival institutions select, preserve, and make their records accessible for a number of reasons, including legal, financial, and administrative purposes.

National archives are repositories that collect materials relating to local, state, or national government entities maintain records as evidence of the government's policies and operations. By preserving these records, it enables citizens to monitor the conduct of government agencies and public servants.

Private organizations, such as businesses, churches, universities, and museums, also establish institutional archives to care for their records. The archival records that are maintained by these repositories document the organizations' origins, structures, policies, programs, functions, and vital information over time.

An archive can only be understood within the context of a creator, which may be an individual person (an artist, or writer) or an organisation (a university, or artist book publisher). An archive should be organised in way that reflects the creator’s processes. Traditionally an archive is always arranged in a hierarchy. This process is called cataloguing. Through this activity we construction and impose a logic to enable others to access and use the archive/information.

The archive catalogue goes from the general to the specific. The further you go down the catalogue, the more detailed each description is. For example, the top level provides a general description of what material is in the archive and general keywords relating to all material, while item levels provide descriptions of individual names, and specific keywords.

Since materials in archival collections are unique, the people (archivists) in charge of caring for those materials strive to preserve them for use today, and for future generations of researchers. Archives have specific guidelines for how people may use collections to protect the materials from physical damage and theft, keeping them and their content accessible for posterity. The management of archival materials can be roughly categorised into the following functions: appraisal, accessioning, arrangement, description, preservation, access, outreach, and advocacy.

Al-Kailani Collection
Maps the architectural practice of Adnan Al-Kailani through photographs, architectural plans and drawings. His designs influences include - Islamic architecture; Pattern; principles of geometry; and philosophy and religious studies.

Godfrey ArchiveBob Godfrey Archive
Internationally celebrated animator who founded the Animation programme at UCA Farnham – we hold his scripts, storyboards, correspondence, and animation cels.
A selection of of animations are available on ResourceBank

undefinedCanterbury School of Art Collection
Canterbury School of Art collection contains material from the School of Architecture - prospectuses, student work magazines, reports and photographs.

undefinedDiagram Group Archive​
Founded by Bob Chapman and Bruce Robertson in 1960’s. Diagram was one of the most prolific creators of visual information books in the 20th century – we care for most of its manuscripts and art works.

Drew GalleryDrew Gallery Projects
Evidence of the earliest developments in East Kent of the role of public art and regeneration between 1980s and 90s. Sandra Drew curated temporary art and sculpture exhibitions alongside the Canterbury Festival - the collection documents its history through posters, reviews and photographs.
A selection of images from the archive can be viewed here

Foundry TypesFoundry Types
Freda Sack and David Quay, the creators of Foundry Types, eight concept designs of NatWest fonts produced pre 2001, showing work in progress and different types of typography.

undefinedHerbert Read Gallery Archive
The archive consists administrative and publicity material generated by the gallery between 1983-2007 - exhibiting artists include Yoko Ono, Jeremy Deller, Mike Nelson, Fischli & Weiss, Adam Chodzko, Susan Hiller.

Kirstian AndrewsKristian Andrews
Animators storyboards and ink drawings from 'Rabbit Punch', an autobiographical film on his life growing up.
A selection of animations are available on ResourceBank

Materials LibraryMaterials Library
A collection of material samples reflecting innovative material design and process samples used to explore material experimentation in design and creative practice.

Stour ValleyStour Valley Arts
An arts organisation which engaged the public through commissioned art projects in the context of King’s Wood, Ashford, Kent from 1994 to 2015 -  inspiring resource for those studying sculpture, land art, and art in the public realm.

Stuart HiltonStuart Hilton
Artwork of an experimental documentary for '6 Weeks in June', 1996. A road animation of 11000 miles around the USA in six weeks in the back of a van with a band, a pen, and a stack of paper.

Tandem FilmsTandem Film Daniel Greaves Studios
​Animations produced by Tandem Films including ‘Flatworld’ (1997) and ‘Manipulation’ (1991) - this collection consists storyboards, scripts, and artworks.
A selection of animations are available on ResourceBank

Tessa BoffinTessa Boffin Archive
​Photographer and performance artist, this collection reflects her artistic practice developed around LGBTQ, gay and lesbian culture and producing work in response to HIV/AIDS
A selection of digitised archives are available on ResourceBank

Typographic CircleTypographic Circle​​
Poster collection (2008 - 2015). Founded by Maggie Lewis in 1976, Typographic Circle brought together people with an interest in typography and type.

University ArchiveUniversity Archive
The 150 years of history and records of the University and its founding colleges - including a sample of prospectuses, student work magazines, news reports and photographs.

Working Press ArchiveWorking Press Archive
Books by and about working class artists and other marginalised groups of artist. Collected by Stefan Szczelkun,1986-1996 - contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, published book collection, pamphlets and zines.

When looking for archives across the UK it is useful to be aware what material you are looking for, as different institutions will hold different types of records. For example, local government record offices will hold local government records, including coroners’ files, museums will hold records complementary to their objects, and universities will hold records related to their research interests, and relating to the history of the institution.

The National Archives the UK government's official archive, "containing 1000 years of history from Domesday Book to the present", with records from parchment and paper scrolls through to digital files and archives websites.

Archives Hub enables you to search across descriptions of archives held at over 350 institutions across the UK. This includes the ability to search for more than one keyword, and includes tips on searching for keywords, subject terms, or via the regional search.

Artists Books
Are works of art in a book (or book-like) form. The appearance and production of the work is determined by the artist. It may be a unique, one-of-a-kind or produced in an edition. Available at Canterbury, Farnham, and Epsom.
Digitised front covers can be viewed in ResourceBank

The bookRoom is a research cluster based in Farnham since 2004, under the leadership of Emmanuelle Waeckerle. The bookRoom collection consists of publish artists books and editions works that operates across various time-based media, photography, moving image, writing and performance.
A selection of digitised books can be viewed here

undefinedBusiness Card Collection
​A unique private collection – 240,000 business cards from across the world dating from the mid-nineteenth century demonstrating the development of the business calling card as a medium of advertising.

Herbert Read Book Collection
Sir Herbert Read (1893 – 1968) was a British art historian, poet, literary critic, and philosopher. The collection consists of 321 books on poetry, sculpture, drawing, art history and theory, and psychology. Accessed at UCA Canterbury.

Front cover of Brooch by Yayako Uchida, from UCA rare books collectionRare Books
Rich and diverse book collections consisting of valuable, rare, fragile, or content that does not fall into the University’s other Special Collections. Content ranges from rare pattern-cutting guide for menswear, 1917 to a Tracy Emin signed exhibition catalogue, 2008 to a beautiful leather-bound book containing dyeing techniques and textile swatches, 1895, to a portfolio of facsimiled DADA pamphlets and magazines.

Stuart AitkinStuart Aitken Research Files
Technical fashion research notes illustrated pattern cutting and fashion and textile history covering the Architecture of Clothing 300AD to 1900AD and Architecture of Fashion from Modern to Postmodern.
Digitised files can be viewed in ResourceBank

Tessa Boffin
Tessa Boffin’s library consists of 509 books covering gender identity, lesbianism, feminism, sex, women, AIDS, psychoanalysis, and pornography. Accessed at UCA Farnham.

Urban Fox Press
Urban Fox Press brought together artists and musicians from across Medway and gave them a platform to perform, exhibit and have their work published. Including Billy Childish, Wolf Howard, Sexton Ming, Bill Lewis, Zara Carpenter, Katherine May, The Medway Mermaids and David Wise. Accessed at UCA Canterbury.

Working Press
Working Press are published books, pamphlets and zines by marginalised artists relating to working class, black artists, disabled artists, and women artists. This collection consists of material collected by Stefan Szczelkun from 1986-1996. Accessed at UCA Farnham
Digitised front covers of the Zines collection can be viewed in ResourceBank


Are a unique form of self-expression “do it yourself“ magazines.  They cover any subject, common themes include feminism, music, politics, activism, literature, personal, crafts, art and design, and travel. Available at Canterbury, Epsom, and Farnham.
Digitised front covers can be viewed in ResourceBank

The archives are based within the campus libraries, they can be viewed by contacting the Gateway either in person, telephone or email.  To ensure the safety of our collections -

  • food and drink must not be consumed
  • use pencils only to make any notes
  • do not lean on documents or fold documents
  • photocopying is not permitted
  • photography is allowed without the use of flash for your own personal studies and research* 

*if you wish to copy any item you must complete and sign to confirm that you agree to abide by terms and conditions outlined in the Archives & Special Collections Registration Form below.