Accessing the IOE Archive

In the archives we’re having a bit of a celebration… After more than five years of working our way through the IOE’s historical records we now have a list of everything in the collection. It’s been a massive project – and if I’m honest a bit of a slog at times – but it means that for the first time we can actually make the whole archive accessible.


The project has involved working our way through about 3000 boxes, file by file, making a  decision on whether the file should be kept permanently. As is often the case, over the years the library received boxes of material from various locations across the IOE. When the records were transferred to us they were never sorted to ensure that what was retained was the important historical material. So, for example, amongst the records charting the IOE’s relationship with central and local government were files of taxi receipts, room bookings, photocopying orders and many more less-than-interesting items! As a rule, just 5% of all records created by an organisation going about its daily business should be retained permanently in the archive so we’ve been making sure that those records we simply do not need to retain, or do not have any historical significance, are disposed of. To help us with our decisions we have been applying retention periods recommended by the HEI retention schedule developed by JISC


Now that we have a list of everything in the collection we are about to start another major project – to catalogue the collection. This, again, is a mammoth task which involves organising the whole collection and listing and repacking the contents of each file. To give a sense of the size of this task, we currently have a file list in 7 separate documents each about 80 pages long, as well as some 4500 files already catalogued. Between us we will be working through the collection starting with the oldest material.


We hope to have the first section – covering the period 1902-1949 – up on the online catalogue by Autumn. This section comprises the minutes of the main committees including the Council and Academic Board, memoranda books, correspondence files of the Principals (now Director) dating from 1906-1925, as well as records about the IOE’s move to Nottingham during the Second World War and plans for educational reconstruction and changes to teacher training in the post-war era. We will, of course, let you know when each section has been completed and listed online.


Some work has already been completed and in the last couple of weeks we have added a lot of new content to the online catalogue. The records of the Colonial Department and its successors have been available for a few months and you can find out more about the collection by reading Jessica’s posts. In addition to that the following sections are now listed online and freely available to researchers in the reading room:

  • Art Centre – established in 1976, the Centre ‘encouraged all members of the Institute community to organize and participate in cultural ventures, including art, dance, drama, film, music and theatre arts’. Many exhibitions were held in the galleries which were on the site of the bookshop and where the library now sits
  • IOE Nursery – providing care for the children of staff and students, and later residents in Camden
  • Centre for Teachers – The Centre was established at the Institute in 1950 to organise refresher courses for practising teachers. It was later renamed the INSET office
  • Or finally how about finding out more about the IOE’s Senior Common Room – a place of important hierarchy where admission was restricted to professors, heads of departments and senior administrators. Activities in the Room largely involved smoking, and other social events.


If you would like to access any part of the IOE archive please contact us at

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