Depositing or donating material to the History Centre

How to deposit documents at or donate publications to Oxfordshire History Centre.

Restrictions on depositing and donating

Read the latest information about the restrictions under pandemic restrictions.

The History Centre brings together library and archive materials which throw light on the history of Oxfordshire.

Local Studies (library) materials – what we accept

Printed material:

  • We welcome donations of published or printed material (hard-copy or digital) on any aspect of Oxfordshire life and history, including village or family histories, topical studies, periodicals, and electronic publications.
  • The History Centre also has a small purchasing budget, which is generally used to buy newly published works on Oxfordshire history.

We also accept donations of audio-visual material, including:

  • Photographs of people, places, activities and events in Oxfordshire, where these enhance our existing collections on Picture Oxon.
  • Oral history recordings, where these enhance our existing collections on Picture Oxon.
  • The History Centre does not have the resources to make oral history recordings.

See Local Studies’ materials terms of deposit - local studies (pdf format, 92Kb) more details.

Archive materials – what we accept

Archive materials are often owned by individuals, businesses or organisations and are deposited with the History Centre so that they can be used by researchers in conjunction with other resources.

We accept archive material as follows:

  • Written records created by organisations and individuals as part of their life and work, where, in the opinion of the professional staff, these provide valuable information on Oxfordshire’s history.

We will not accept:

  • Records which in any way contravene the Data Protection Act 2018 or any other legislation and remain sensitive despite the use of closure periods.
  • Records which are required for current administrative purposes, for example, financial records which are less than seven years old.
  • Severely damaged, illegible, infested or hazardous material, unless express permission has been given by our Conservation Manager.
  • Unreasonable restrictions placed by owners of records on access to their records by the general public.

Archive materials – how to make a deposit

We will need to assess records to ascertain their historical value:

  • The History Centre has a legal responsibility to accept particular classes of document, including public records, local authority records, and parish registers.
  • Other types of record have to be assessed on their merits and cannot be accepted unseen.

For further details, please see our guidelines for holders and depositors of particular categories of records:

Bringing records in:

  • If you need someone to look at your records, to decide if they are suitable for deposit, please be aware that it may be some time before a member of staff is available.
  • Please do not make a special trip to the office with documents you wish to deposit without agreeing this with us in advance.
  • In particular, it may not be possible to accept deposits on Saturdays unless all the necessary administration has been completed in advance and a specific appointment has been made. Contact us.

Types of transfer – archives can be handed to the History Centre as:

  • a gift, by which ownership is transferred to the Centre,
  • or a deposit, by which you retain ownership.

See Terms of deposit for archives (pdf format, 109Kb) for more details.

Archive materials – conditions for depositors

Oxfordshire History Centre:

  • exists to preserve and promote the documentary heritage of Oxfordshire and records deposited (accessions) must be consistent with that purpose.
  • accepts documentary records in any format relating to Oxfordshire or which form part of an archive relating primarily to Oxfordshire.
  • reserves the right to determine storage, preservation and other requirements for the records in its care, subject to specific agreements with records owners.

Owners of records:

  • are requested, whenever possible, to sort and list material prior to transfer: collections of records may not be acceptable until a box list has been seen
  • are requested to organise the transfer of their records to this office
  • are requested to inform us of records in digital formats
  • are required to sign an accession agreement and, depending on the content and age of the records, a data protection questionnaire
  • are required to confirm ownership.

Legal matters

When depositing or donating material, there are often legal matters to consider. It is important to get agreement on these things at the start of a deposit or donation, to avoid problems later. 

  • For archive materials we will ask you to sign a deposit agreement covering issues such as ownership, copyright and data protection.
  • For library materials, which include photographs and oral history recordings, we may ask you to sign additional documentation detailing ownership and copyright conditions.

Museum objects

  • Oxfordshire History Centre does not accept artefacts or works of art.
  • Read guidance on how to donate or loan items to your local museum or gallery.