Development of the Archive and Manuscript Collections
The archive holdings of the University of Southampton and its predecessor, the University College of Southampton and the Hartley Institution, dates back to the 1860s, soon after the foundation of the Hartley Institution. That said, over 95% of the present holdings of manuscripts, which now number some 6 million items, have been received since March 1983. The collection has a number of different focuses, which include archives of international significance, most notably in the Wellington (MS 61 and MS 69) and Palmerston and Mountbatten (MS 62) papers and an important corpus of material concerning the Jews and their relationship with other peoples.
The Hartley Institution, founded as a local learned institution, had among its facilities both a library and museum. Between them, they gathered in or were presented with a number of manuscript collections. The early collections were eclectic in nature, ranging from the papers of local seamen and materials clearly brought back from their travels; to records that may have their origins in the archives of the corporation of Southampton, with which the Hartley Institution was closely associated; and groups of letters, some coherent archive groups, put together by autograph collectors. As early as 1873, the minute book of the library committee records the presentation of `Specimens of old English writing in the form of deeds, upon condition that they be bound' (now MS 28). The Institution's collections included items of more general interest, ranging from Renaissance drawings to manuscripts from among purchases and bequests of books. The Library and Museum received materials relating to the locality, to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the most important of which, the Cope bequest, contained manuscript as well as printed items (MS 5). With the establishment of local record offices, in Hampshire, for the county and city of Winchester, in and after 1947, for the corporation of Southampton in 1951 and for the corporation of Portsmouth, papers of local interest
were directed there and local topographical manuscripts ceased to be an active focus for the University's collecting policy. In 1972, the University dispersed to local record offices all the local material that it did not own; the material was transferred principally to the Hampshire Record Office, where it now has the reference 46M72 and 7M87-110m87. At the same time the remnants of the holdings of the museum of the Hartley Institution were transferred to Southampton City Museums, with the exception of some of the rock collections, which remain in the Geology Department. The maintenance of the Cope collection as a collection of materials of local interest continues, although its accessions are now almost exclusively printed.
A new chapter of the University's archive collecting commenced in 1983, when the papers of the first Duke of Wellington were allocated to the University under the national heritage legislation. There are close links between the University and the Dukes of Wellington: the seventh Duke became in 1952 the first Chancellor of the new University of Southampton, the fruition of a campaign supported by his family for a university of Wessex. Further significant acquisitions of manuscripts ensued, the Broadlands archive in 1985-7, followed by accessions of supporting collections. The conversion of a part of the University Library in 1982-3 to provide appropriate accommodation for the Wellington Papers was followed in 1987 by the provision of new archive strongrooms and an enlarged reading room. As part of a major building project in 2002-4, the Special Collections has new and greatly enlarged accommodation, including an additional strongroom, a new exhibition gallery and a new reading room which has doubled reader spaces.
The University has had through the collections of C.G.Montefiore, a former President of the University College, and through the library of Dr James Parkes, a special interest in papers concerning the relations of the Jewish people with other peoples; since 1989 this has been developed with a particular focus on the records of Anglo-Jewry, of national organisations and of individuals, and in 1990 many of the collections of the Anglo-Jewish Archives were transferred to the Library. The principal genealogical holdings of the Anglo-Jewish Archives, the Montefiore-Hyamson, D'Arcy Hart and Colyer-Fergusson collections were transferred at this date to the Society of Genealogists in London. In the range of these materials, the University and researchers have good reason to thank those individuals who, since 1963, had worked through Anglo-Jewish Archives towards the preservation of the records of the Anglo-Jewish community. A considerable number of major accessions relating to Anglo-Jewry has been received since 1990 and this continues to be an area where collecting is most active