Information for potential depositors

1: What sort of material does the Churchill Archives Centre collect?

The Centre usually collects records of private individuals rather than the records of organisations and accepts material which significantly adds to or complements existing collections, or which falls within its collecting criteria, as follows:

  • The Spencer-Churchill family.
  • Political Life and Government Policy, 1900 to the present.
  • Military strategy and foreign policy, 1900 to the present.
  • Science and Technology, 1900 to the present.
  • Journalism, media, social comment and observation, 1900 to the present
  • The history of Churchill College, especially the personal papers of prominent figures connected with Churchill College.

The prime criterion by which papers will be accepted remains that of importance. This will be judged by the Centre, in consultation, if necessary, with academic experts in the relevant fields.

For more information see our collections policy.

2: How can I find out if the Centre might be interested in the material I hold?

The Centre is always happy to engage with potential depositors and to offer advice. In the first instance, you might email or ring 01223 336087 and ask to speak with the Director or one of the Senior Archivists. You can also write to:
The Director
The Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College

If felt appropriate by the Director, the Centre’s professional archivists may then offer to make a survey visit and/or give advice on aspects of the care of records. It is not possible for the Centre to take all of the collections it is offered and we must, on occasion, also be selective in the material we take from individual depositors.

For more information see our collections policy.

3: On what basis will material be accepted by the Archives Centre?

The Centre greatly prefers to receive collections as full gifts so that it can confidently invest resources in the upkeep and care of materials transferred.

In exceptional circumstances, the Centre may take material on indefinite loan, but would normally wish to work with the depositor to convert such a loan into a gift at an appropriate future point, perhaps through the depositor offering the collection to the Centre in lieu of inheritance tax.

The Centre will not seek, and does not have the financial resources, to purchase collections, although it may encourage trusts and individuals to purchase material on the understanding that the material is then presented to the Centre as a gift.

The Centre is experienced in accepting material in lieu of inheritance tax. The scheme applies only to collections which are considered ‘pre-eminent’. Please free to contact the Archives Centre for a discussion on the mechanics of the scheme and for further information, see the Arts Council guidance page.

The Centre is very willing to accept assignment of any personal copyrights in the material owned by the depositor, but these are often retained by the depositor.

Copyright is often complex and donors or depositors should be aware that ownership of the physical record does not necessarily equate with ownership of the copyright in the record. Generally, copyright belongs to the creator of an item, a diary, letter etc. As the originals of letters are often preserved in the archives of the recipient this can mean that there are many individual copyright holders within a collection of letters to a single recipient. The duration of copyright varies according to who created the material, when, and whether it has been published.

4: What will happen to my material after deposit?

Each collection will be given a unique four letter reference code (eg: CHUR for post 1945 Churchill Papers) and each accession is given its own unique running number. After the initial deposit, the depositor will be asked to sign a Deed of Gift or Indefinite Loan (which has to be independently witnessed). The depositor will also be sent a receipt for each and every individual accession to the collection.

Each deposit will be assessed for its preservation and conservation needs, and reboxed/ repackaged as deemed necessary by the professional conservation team. Material in special formats will be identified and appropriate plans made to preserve this material.

The material will be assessed for cataloguing priority and a plan drawn up to provide public access. Possible sensitivities, such as data protection closures, will be flagged up. The speed at which material becomes available for public access will depend upon these assessments.

The Centre is committed to conforming to the relevant national archival standards and best practice professional guidelines. The Centre maintains and updates a Disaster Contingency Plan to protect its holdings.

The Centre has a fully equipped Conservation workshop and considerable expertise in the conservation (protection of archives by minimal physical and chemical treatments designed to resist further deterioration and to make material available for use) and preservation (passive protection of archives in which no physical or chemical treatment is used) of modern papers.

The physical condition of records is closely inspected at the time of their transfer and regularly thereafter. So far as resources and priorities allow, they are archivally packaged and any necessary treatments are carried out free of charge to a donor. However, if records on loan require considerable expenditure the Centre would usually hope to receive financial help from the depositor, subject to prior agreement in each instance.

Conservation treatments undertaken in the Archives Centre are in accordance with nationally agreed ethical and technical standards. All conservation treatment is undertaken with the intention of preserving the maximum degree of evidential value and with the minimum impact on the authenticity of the record. All conservation examinations/treatments are recorded and such records kept for the long-term.

As soon as a description of a collection has been produced a copy is sent to the depositor and a copy made available in the Centre’s reading room. Records are catalogued and listed by trained professional archivists, or by other staff or volunteers under supervision, to the agreed standards of description and indexing.

The Centre holds the copyright in the finding aids (in whatever form) that are created by its staff. The Centre aims to publish its finding aids on the Internet.

5: How much control will I have over the use of the material after deposit?

The aim of the Archives Centre is to make the material available for scholarship and research. The Archives Centre will not accept material on the basis that it remains permanently closed, however it is possible for a depositor to request that certain papers remain closed for a specified period (to be mutually agreed with the Archives Centre). This would normally be built into the deposit agreement but can often be reviewed after cataloguing before the collection is opened.

Where material is deposited on indefinite loan, it can be withdrawn with adequate notice but the Centre reserves the right to copy records and hold these copies after an archive has been withdrawn.

6: Where will the material be preserved?

The material will be stored on site at Churchill College, Cambridge.

The Centre’s collections are held in temperature and humidity controlled and monitored strong rooms which are protected by sophisticated fire and intruder alarms and an inert (Inergen) gas fire suppression system.

Churchill College’s Porters’ Lodge is close at hand and manned by security staff 24 hours a day. Only members of the Centre’s staff or approved visitors under supervision have access to the strongroom areas where documents are housed.

7: How will the material be accessed?

The Centre seeks to make archival material freely available to researchers at all levels, from school children to university professors. Public access to original documents will usually be in the controlled conditions of an invigilated reading room covered by a recordable digital CCTV system. All readers must sign to a set of rules and view handling guidelines before being issued with documents. The Centre will withhold access to records considered to be too fragile for public consultation until suitable remedial action can be taken. Where a surrogate copy of an item is available this will usually be used by readers and staff instead of the original. It is the Centre’s usual practice not to produce entirely unlisted records.

Access to records is subject to any clauses in the agreement made between the depositor and the Centre, or any statutory restrictions and closure periods. We are always keen to try and persuade donors to agree that collections should be open and accessible on an equal basis to all researchers. However, owners sometimes feel that material in their collections has ongoing sensitivity and that they cannot agree to public access. The Centre will generally agree to any reasonable conditions that a donor feels are necessary. The Centre, though, retains the right to refuse collections of records with permanent or very restrictive closure periods.

All persons requesting reproductions of copyright works in our custody for private study and research are required to complete and sign a copyright declaration form promising to respect copyright rights and legislation. Where the depositor retains the personal copyrights in a collection, the Archives Centre will forward requests for publication or commercial usage.

Records are often used for exhibitions within Churchill College or to illustrate talks and lectures by the Centre’s staff. Documents may be displayed in original or in facsimile depending on their physical condition, although the Centre actively encourages the use of facsimiles for both in-house and external displays.

When records are selected for exhibition outside of Churchill College, the Centre will always ensure that adequate security, courier and insurance arrangements are in place. Loans for exhibition are only be approved if the host body can show that the standards of care in the temporary location are similar to those of the Churchill Archives Centre and meet the relevant national and international standards.

8: Will the material be insured?

While the Centre makes every effort to preserve and protect records against loss or damage through fire, theft or otherwise, it generally does not insure records in its custody. The Centre is happy to liaise with the owners of loaned records who wish to make arrangements to insure their own records if they think it desirable.

9: How is the Archives Centre funded?

The Centre is a charitable organisation that receives no direct public funding and relies for its income on the past and future support and generosity of grant giving trusts and individuals. At present no charge is generally made for the storage, maintenance, administration and specialist skills required for the upkeep of collections within the Centre’s custody. However financial contributions from depositors are greatly valued.

Access for research and education purposes is provided free of charge in the Centre’s reading rooms and the Centre has a strong commitment to help develop free on-line archive resources in the future. The Centre does, though, generally charge commercial companies making use of the Centre’s collections and facilities.

10: How does the Archives Centre comply with other legislation?

The Archives Centre has a policy on Access, Freedom of Information and Data Protection, which is available here.

i) Freedom of Information Act:

Churchill College, including the Archives Centre, is covered by the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act which came into force in January 2005. Under the terms of the Act researchers are able to make an FOI request for information by putting an enquiry in writing (by e-mail, letter etc) and describing the information they are seeking.

The Centre, using advice given by the staff of the National Archives, has drawn up guidelines for the application of FOI for its collections. In certain cases information can remain closed on donor’s wishes if it has been supplied to the Archives Centre in confidence and may be exempt from the provisions of the FOI Act. Information in collections which are not owned by Churchill College (i.e. collections deposited on loan) may in certain cases not be covered by FOI.

Where donors or depositors have specific concerns these can be discussed with the Centre and appropriate clauses built into any transfer agreements.

ii) Closures of papers in consultation with the Cabinet Office:

The Centre holds many papers of individuals who played significant roles in public affairs and represented the Government at high levels. The information contained in many of our collections overlaps with material contained in the Government’s own official records held at the National Archives. The Cabinet Office, and occasionally other external organisations, review our collections and advise on appropriate access for researchers. On official advice we might close all or parts of collections relating, for instance, to national security matters, defence and international relations, formulation of government policy and the conduct of public affairs, honours and recent material concerning the Sovereign.

iii) Data Protection:

Churchill College (as the Centre’s parent body) is responsible as the “data controller” for the information in the custody of the Archives Centre. As the Churchill Archives Centre preserves its collections in perpetuity for long term public benefit, the Centre is permitted to process personal data (including sensitive personal data) where necessary for “archiving purposes in the public interest”.

Sensitive information, as defined by data protection legislation, about named individuals who are (or may be) still alive is routinely closed by the Centre for specific periods. As a further safeguard the application form for a reader’s ticket includes an undertaking that researchers commit that they will not breach data protection or other legal guidelines.

11: What is the policy regarding return of unwanted material?

Material deposited in the Centre is intended to be taken in perpetuity. However, the Centre reserves the right in exceptional circumstances to apply the criteria of its current Collections Policy to de-accession collections it already holds. However, the Centre recognises that any de-accessioning must be handled with sensitivity, and that the depositors or their heirs must be informed and offered back unwanted material wherever possible. De-accessioned archival material will be returned, offered to another repository or destroyed, and not sold (without the express permission of the owner).

The Centre reserves the right to weed or destroy ephemeral or duplicated material within a collection or return it to donors or depositors.

12: How will my personal data be handled?

The Archives Centre will only store your personal data for the purposes of administering the collection. We will do so in accordance with data protection legislation and we will not share your data with third parties without your permission, unless required to do so by law. Please see our data protection privacy statement for further information. 

We would like to keep you informed of Archives Centre news and events. Please let us know if we may contact you with news.

13: How will my contribution be acknowledged?

If you would like your donation of material to be acknowledged, then we will record it in the Archives Centre annual report. It is, however, perfectly acceptable for your donation to be private and anonymous.

16 April 2018.