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The University of Southampton
Special Collections

MS 1 Records of the University of Southampton

History of University of Southampton

In 1850, Henry Robinson Hartley, a descendant of two generations of Southampton wine merchants, bequeathed nearly the whole of his estate, amounting to more than £100,000, to the Corporation of Southampton to be employed `in such manner as [might] best promote the study and advancement of the sciences of natural history, astronomy, antiquities, classical and oriental literature in the town, such as by forming a public library, botanic gardens, observatory, and collections of objects in connection with the above sciences'. The will was contested and the terms of the benefaction, which were ambiguous in some degree, made the task of the Corporation more difficult; and it was not until 1862 that the Prime Minister, the third Viscount Palmerston, was able to open the newly built Hartley Institution, with its library, museum and lecture halls that had been constructed on the site of three houses leased by H.R.Hartley in the High Street in Southampton. Between 1863 and the end of the nineteenth century, instruction was offered in a range of scientific, technical, engineering and literary subjects, and the Southampton School of Art was subsumed within the Hartley Institution in 1871. The museum of the Institution was open to the public on three days of each week and a number of important exhibitions was staged. Aside from its endowment, the Institution was partly subvented by Southampton Corporation, in particular for `technical education'. The Institution was incorporated on 23 November 1902 as the Hartley University College, the result of recognition by the University Colleges' Grants Commission of the considerable development and achievement in the Institution's teaching of the sciences and the humanities and the campaign for a university for Wessex. The activities of the College continued to expand and while limited additions could and were made to its accommodation in the town, a new site with potential for greater expansion was required. Land in Highfield was acquired but one of the effects of the First World War was to postpone for five years the move of the University College of Southampton, as it became in 1914, to its new site. For the duration of the war the new buildings in Highfield were used as a war hospital and Highfield Hall was lent to the Red Cross Society. The College continued to expand, with the construction of further buildings and a very considerable increase in the number of students, particularly after the Second World War. The University College became the University of Southampton with the grant of a royal charter on 29 April 1952, with the seventh Duke of Wellington as its first Chancellor. In 1989-90, it had more than 7,500 students and approximately 1615 academic and academically-related staff, divided into seven faculties, arts, social sciences, law, engineering, science, mathematics and medicine.

The history of the institution was written by A.Temple Patterson The University of Southampton (University of Southampton, Southampton, 1962); and there is a study of H.R.Hartley by A.Anderson Hartleyana, being some account of the life and opinions of Henry Robiinson Hartley..... (Southampton Record Series, supplementary volume, 1987).

Arrangement of collection

Most of the archives of the Hartley Institution, the University College of Southampton and the University of Southampton are now held together in one collection in the University Library, although some early records form a part of the archives of the Corporation of Southampton and are preserved in the Southampton Archives. The papers of former students and staff are maintained as separate collections.

About the  collection

Minute books: Council, 1869-1968; Senate, 1906-65; Court of Governors, 1903-51, with registers of members of Council and Court and of attendance, 1902-51; general purposes and finance committee, 1872-1968; Hartley bequest committee, 1860-8. Records of other committees including: apparatus grant committee, 1949-64; development committee, 1908-40; educational committee, 1894-1906; emergency executive committee, 1939-45; grants committee, 1919-20; grounds committee, 1930-48; halls of residence committee, 1930-52; laboratory technical staff committee, 1959-67; library committee, 1915-58; union facilities committee, 1964-7; works committee, 1938-52. Minute books for the Hartley Institution Library and Museum, 1872-98; Hampshire Loan Exhibition, 1866.

Accounts and ledgers, 1912-43; accounts-hostels, 1908-17.

Registers of contracts of appointment, 1892-1945

Letter books, 1894-8, 1907-15

Records of the University's central administration: files of the Secretary and Registrar and of the Academic Registrar from 1952 onwards. Some records from faculties, especially Arts, Education and Engineering.

Papers of societies, including the Hartley University College Past Students' Association, later the Hartley Society, 1891-1964, the Engineering Faculty Society, 1956-71.

Additional papers

Central administration papers: A762 University crest; A548, A4089 Hartley University College and University College, Southampton, minute books, 1902-45; A616 University College, Southampton, joint committee for tutorial classes minute books, 1918-27; A3091 Board of Matriculation papers, 1953-71; A4090 Academic Registrar Department papers, 1923-89; A4091 committee and board papers, catalogues of cups and trophies, 1923-70

Papers relating to departments, faculties and societies: A308 Southampton Modern Language Society, minute books and papers, 1946-70; A763 Faculty of Engineering papers, 1926-60; A4151 Department of Chemistry, 1900-2011;

Department of English: A4108 papers of Dr Bella Millet, 1920s-93;

Department of Geography: A817 papers of Professor Malcolm Wagstaff, 1970-87;

Department of Mathematics: A526 committee minute books, 1964-77, and papers relating to the future of the department, 1970-6; A2060, A4096 and A4173 papers of Dr Frank Rhodes relating to the Department of Mathematics; A4126 photographs of students of the Mathematics Department, 1960-2008

Date range:



1050 boxes

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