Hertford College Archives
The College Archives contain the records created by Hart Hall, Magdalen Hall and Hertford College.
Today’s Hertford College is the successor of two medieval halls of the University of Oxford – Hart Hall and Magdalen Hall – and a previous ‘Hertford College’ which existed from 1740-1816. To find out more about the history of Hertford College and our alumni, visit the College History page.
Please note that Magdalen Hall is a separate institution from Magdalen College. If you have an enquiry relating to Magdalen College, please contact their Library and Archive.
About our collections
The majority of the records in the Archives are those created by Hertford College from its foundation in 1874. Official administrative records and records relating to works to the College buildings from this date are well represented in the collection. The survival of records created by Hertford College’s predecessor bodies has been more haphazard and these bodies are not so well represented. There are no records prior to the 17th century.
The collection consists of:
- Records of Hart Hall and its successor Hertford College 1716-1820: Governance records and statutes, Library catalogues
- Records of Magdalen Hall 1661-1874: Governance records, Admissions registers (1849-1874), Library catalogues, Buttery Books (1661-1874 – please note that due to conservation considerations most of the Magdalen Hall Buttery Books are not available for consultation)
- Records of Hertford College 1874 onwards: administrative, financial and fabric records of Hertford College from 1874 onwards, some personal papers of former Hertford College staff and students, records of student life and societies, prints, engravings & photographs
Family history and alumni research
We can usually confirm academic details such as dates of matriculation and degrees awarded. However please note that the Archives rarely contain biographical information about individual students. We have a small number of records relating to College servants.
We have a good collection of College photographs dating from the end of the 19th century, all of which are available for viewing by visitors in person. There are gaps for some years, so we are always glad to hear from alumni who have photographs which they might consider donating. Please note that most of our photographs have been taken by the Oxford-based photography firm Gillman & Soame. Photographs taken 70 years ago or less are still in copyright so please visit the Gillman & Soame website at if you wish to order reproductions.
Please do not reproduce any archival material which appears on this website without prior permission from the Archivist.
Collecting and donations
Please contact the Archivist if you have a document, photograph or other item that you think would be of interest. We are always interested to see items that tell us something more about the college, and we will be happy to provide advice and further information where possible.
We aim to strengthen our collections by acquiring and permanently preserving records created by Hertford College and its predecessors Hart Hall and Magdalen Hall; so if you are considering making a donation the Archivist would be delighted to discuss this. We are particularly interested in collecting:
- Personal papers of fellows, college staff, servants and alumni, especially if they are illustrative of the history of the college or its predecessors
- Official college photographs and personal photographs of individuals with a close connection to the college, or that are illustrative of college life
- Records of college societies and related organisations
- Records relating to significant events in the life of the college
We will consider records in a wide range of formats; however we do not normally accept artefacts, works of art or printed books unless they are directly relevant to the history of the college or our collections.
We are happy to accept digital files in most standard formats – please contact us beforehand to discuss this further. If you are considering donating scans of photographs, please talk to the Archivist about the most suitable file formats for long term preservation and the best method of transfer.
Accessing the collections
Our Archives are open to all researchers, whether academics, students or private individuals. Most of our records are available for consultation, however, we reserve the right to restrict access if the condition or nature of the records requires it. The core collection was catalogued in 1985 – a typescript version of this catalogue is available in the Library Office. There is no online access to the catalogue database at present.
Enquiries may be made by letter, telephone or email. Please note that the Archivist works two days a week and that it may take up to two weeks to answer enquiries. The Archivist is happy to answer enquiries free of charge; however, we cannot undertake detailed or time-consuming research for individual enquirers. If this is likely to be the case please talk to the Archivist about visiting the Archives in person or making arrangements for the research to be carried out by a third person.
Visting the Archives
We welcome researchers who wish to consult the Archives in person. Researchers should make an appointment in advance by contacting the Archivist, so that we can book a reading room and retrieve records ahead of a visit. Please bring one form of Photo ID such as a University Card, Passport or Driving License. We’ll ask you to complete a visitor form on arrival.
The Archives are open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9.30am – 5.00pm throughout the year. Please contact Dr Lucy Rutherford, Archivist at Hertford College, Catte St, Oxford, OX1 3BW. You can call 01865 279409 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that parking in central Oxford is very limited and that there is no parking available in the college. Visitors are strongly advised to use public transport or the Park & Ride scheme to travel to Oxford. Hertford is a short taxi drive or 15-20 minute walk from the train and bus station.
For visitors with any additional needs, please contact the Archivist in advance so that we can help plan your visit. In particular if you have mobility problems or difficulty in using stairs please let us know in advance so that we can book an accessible reading room. Ramps and an accessible WC (up a short stair lift) are available in college.
All archival material should be handled carefully and in accordance with our Document Handling Guidelines. In particular researchers should not eat or drink near archival material. Visitors will be reminded of the handling guidelines and any necessary equipment such as pencils, book rests and weights will be made available. Please come prepared to use pencils or a laptop rather than pens or biros to make notes. If an item is too fragile to be handled we will consider making a surrogate version such as a photograph or scan available.
Please click here to download a print version of our Information for Visitors.
Will I have to pay to access your collections?
No, we do not charge for answering straightforward enquiries from academic researchers or members of the public. We will not normally charge for supplying digital images for academic or other non-commercial purposes such as publications, exhibitions or websites, but we may make a charge if reproducing and editing the images is particularly time consuming. We reserve the right to charge to cover the costs of any photocopying or printing.
Are reproductions available?
No photocopying, scanning or any other form of reproduction may be carried out without prior permission from the Archivist. Researchers may request copies to be made of documents in the Archives for the purposes of private research, subject to the physical condition of the records and any legal restrictions. Please complete a Reproduction Permission Form and return to the Archivist.
We will normally charge a fee for reproduction and usage of images in the case of commercial publication; in this case please contact the Librarian or Archivist to discuss your project. We will normally ask for a copy of publications to be donated to the Library and Archives.
Can I bring my own digital camera?
Digital cameras may be used to make personal research copies, with the prior permission of the Archivist and on completion of a self-photography form.
Are your collections covered by copyright?
Researchers wishing to reproduce material for publication or commercial use must obtain permission from the copyright holder. Where the copyright is held by Hertford College the researcher must complete a copyright permission form. If the copyright is held elsewhere it is the responsibility of the researcher to seek permission from the copyright holder before a reproduction can be made.
Suggestions for further reading about the history of Hertford College can be downloaded here.
If you are researching a student who matriculated at Oxford upto 1932, then Oxford University Archives will often have more detailed information about their academic career. From 1932 onwards this information is held by the University’s Central Administration. Please contact the Degree Conferrals Office who may be able to help with your enquiry.
There is very useful advice and further information about other Oxford Colleges and the University in general on the Oxford Archivists’ Consortium website. For more information about the city of Oxford and its people, contact Oxfordshire History Centre.