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Richard Burton Archives: University Collections

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Swansea University Collections

The University Archives are the historical records of Swansea University, forming a corporate memory that documents the aims, objectives, and achievements of the University. They also offer a unique glimpse into the people and events, which have helped shape the University into what it is today. The archives have considerable potential for a range of research topics including: the development of academic disciplines, the history of the student body including recruitment, student activism and campus life, the growth of the University campus, and relations between the University and the local community.

Work to catalogue the University archive collections continues, so please keep an eye on these pages and our Archives Catalogue.

Along with the fascinating material already held in the Archives, it is hoped that further archival material will be discovered to enhance and develop the existing collections. If you or your department has material that relates to the history of the University, we would be delighted to hear from you, please contact us.


Governance & Administration

The University College of Swansea was established in 1920 by Royal Charter, as the fourth college of the University of Wales. The University's foundation stone was laid by King George V on 19 July 1920 and 89 students (including eight female students) enrolled that same year.

In 1996 the University changed its name to the University of Wales Swansea, before formally adopting the name Swansea University in September 2007. 

The University Archives includes an extensive collection of Minutes of Court, Council, Senate as well as many of the University’s major committees (1920-2022). In addition there is an extensive correspondence archive for the first Registrar of the University, Edwin Drew (1920-1952) and 1950s Principal, J.S.Fulton (1952-1959). These provide detailed information about key University activities and events from the 1920s to the 1950s.


The Estate collections provide an insight into the development of the University campus, from Singleton Abbey in the 1920s and the building of the library in 1937 to the design of Fulton House in the 1950s and extension of real estate to Bay Campus in the 2010s. Records also include Halls of Residence, such as Clyne Castle and Beck Hall.

Academic Departments

These collections provide an insight into the development of curricula and research activity. However, for some departments there is a limited record, but for others there are extensive collections. These include the Sciences (Physical, Applied and Natural) and Philosophy.

Student & Athletics Union records

The Student Union records include council minute books, policy files, records of the Athletic Union 1932-2010, and Student Union publications.  

The Archives hold student newspapers from the start of the university in the 1920s. Articles, cartoons, verse and advertisements give a great insight into aspects of student life in Swansea , such as their attitudes towards the University, gender, fashion, comedy, relationships, current affairs and community relations. We hold the following (with some gaps).

  • The Undergrad (1921-1925)
  • Dawn (1925-1968)
  • Crefft (1949-1978)
  • DoubleTake  (1981-1986
  • Bad Press (1986-1994)
  • Waterfront (1995-2018)

The student newspaper collection is available to access in digital format in our reading room.

Student newspaper gallery

University Publications

Official publications include University prospectuses, annual reports, and student handbooks.

Bridging Cultures

Assistant Archivists Stacy O’Sullivan and Emily Hewitt worked with the University’s Academy of Inclusivity on Bridging Cultures – an exciting project with the aim to education, celebrate, and inform students and staff about acceptance and tolerance of people from different cultural backgrounds. The project included a workshop about the history of the international student experience, creation of oral history recordings and a physical exhibition at Swansea University. 

Staff and Student Personal Collections

The Archives include a number of collections of former staff and students, including the philosophers Rush Rhees and D.Z.Phillips, Welsh academic and author T.J.Morgan, and 1920s student (and later producer of Swansea Little Theatre) Ruby Graham.


The Archives hold an extensive photographic collection for Swansea University, dating from the 1920s. Subjects include aerial perspectives of campus, buildings, students, staff, events and departments.

Swansea University Centenary, 1920-2020

There was huge activity in the Archives in the lead up to the University’s centenary in 2020. Work was conducted to catalogue the University’s archive collections, and we received over fifty new deposits of University related material between 2017 and 2020.

The Archives supported Dr Sam Blaxland on his research into the history of the University, as well as the oral history project Voices of Swansea University, 1920-2020. The project captured the memories and experiences of over eighty former staff and students of Swansea University. The recordings have been preserved for posterity in the University Archives, and have been featured in Dr Blaxland’s centenary publication ‘Swansea University: Campus and Community in a post-war world, 1945-2020’.

We launched the Swansea University: Making Waves since 1920 exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum in 2021, Swansea. It included photographs, video and oral history recordings from the University’s archives, a recreation of a 1960s student bedroom, music map of Swansea and an interactive 3D model of Singleton Abbey.

In September 2020, Assistant Archivist Emily Hewitt took part in a podcast series recorded with Dr Sam Blaxland ‘A History of University Life