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Depositing or donating material to the History Centre

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

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:

  • 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.

Audio-visual material:

  • 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. (But the History Centre does not have the resources to make oral history recordings).

Local Studies (library) materials – how to make a donation

We welcome donations of printed or audio-visual material, but before making a donation, please contact us to discuss the material you would like to bring in or send to us.

See the Terms of donation or deposit of Local Studies materials for more details.

Archive materials – what we accept

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

We will accept and welcome:

  • Written records and born-digital material created by local authorities, official bodies, businesses, organisations, families and individuals, where, in the opinion of the professional staff, these provide valuable information on Oxfordshire’s history.

We will not accept:

  • Records that 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 or permanently closed material.
  • Copies of documents, such as photocopies or digital images, deposited or donated in place of the original.

Archive materials – how to make a deposit

Before depositing or donating records, please contact us to discuss the material you would like to bring in or send to us.

Please do not make a special trip to us with documents you wish to deposit without agreeing on this with us in advance or post documents to us without prior agreement.

It may not be possible to accept deposits unless all the necessary administration has been completed in advance and a specific appointment has been made.  This is particularly important with digital records, where information about how they have been previously maintained is crucial to gather before 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 records have to be assessed on their merits and cannot be accepted unseen.

Please keep the records together to reflect the way they were created, as far as possible, but do not re-package items (e.g. in plastic wallets) or use additional paper clips or staples.

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

For information on depositing or donating digital archives, please see our Guidelines for depositing born-digital records (pdf format, 99Kb)

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

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

See Archive materials’  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 and complete an Archive Digital Material form (pdf format, 72Kb)
  • 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.

Archives - looking after your own records

If you prefer, as an individual or organisation, to retain records in your locality, please see our web page on the preservation of your documents  This provides guidance on storage, environmental conditions, and handling.

Oxfordshire History Centre is happy to offer help on all aspects of managing archives, including appraisal, accessioning, cataloguing, conservation, digital preservation and access, data protection and copyright.  Contact us for specific advice about your records.

For fuller detail, The National Archives has published a range of information, guidance, and standards for looking after archive collections.

Legal matters

When depositing or donating material, there are often legal matters to consider. It is important to get an 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.