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Historical materials of the Open University

The University Archive contains a number of historical collections relating to the University.

The Serials Archive

A collection of serials produced by the University including magazines for students and staff, departmental bulletins and newsletters, prospectuses, Vice-Chancellor’s reports and statistical information.

Many of the items can be found through Library Search.

The Academic Archive

Much of the work of the Open University in the early years was pioneering in nature. The development of the use of broadcasting for education and “distance learning” was captured by the Academic staff in reports, academic papers and publications. These publications have been collected together to form the Academic Archive. The collection provides a unique insight into the development of the Open University and distance education.

The collection can be searched through the Library Search.

Oral History Collection

In 2009 the Open University celebrated its 40th anniversary. To celebrate this and as part of the ongoing work to capture the history of the organisation, the Open University Oral History Project was established to conduct interviews with academic, administrative, student/alumni and regional staff from the first appointments in 1969 and the first students enrolled in 1971 onwards.

The collection is currently being catalogued.


The Archive holds a very large collection of photographs regarding the University. The majority of these photographs are currently uncatalogued.

Press Cuttings and Releases

The University Archive holds a large collection of University press releases dating to before the University was opened to the current day. The most current press releases are available to download. There is also a collection of press cuttings.

For further information or to make an appointment to view the materials, contact the University Archive team.

The Open University Digital Archive (OUDA)

OUDA contains a selection of historical OU archive materials available online, including over 160 images, over 30 full OU information programmes and selected clips from module programmes. The site also includes online exhibitions, including The OU Story about the history of the university.

Links and related material

The History of the OU Website
An ongoing project to capture the history of the University

The OU Explained

The Open University Charter (PDF)