Record Details

RepositoryOxfam Archive

"Oxfam's historic records go back to its earliest days. The oldest document in Oxfam's possession is the original minute book recording the first meeting of the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in October 1942. Other early records go back to the 1940s but do not fully reflect Oxfam's work as there are only patchy survivals up to the mid-1950s. Until Oxfam (still, in those days, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) moved into Oxfam House in 1963 it operated from rooms above the original shop in Broad Street and in other temporary locations. With very little storage space it is likely that records were either not preserved or were lost in the move to Oxfam House. Fortunately, minutes of meetings of the governing body and subsidiary committees are relatively complete for the entire period of Oxfam's history. Project files, relating to grants made to project partners, form the bulk of the archive material held and number over 21,000. Some project files date back to 1954 but the series is more complete from the early 1960s. Together these give a detailed picture of Oxfam's work over the decades." (source: Oxfam Website, retrieved in 2007; this page has since been removed from the Oxfam website). Some website archiving is also available (some CDs of Internet and Intranet sites (snapshots at a point in time)).

Access Rights

Access to archive material is generally open to staff and external researchers. However, at the end of 2008, the archive team was reviewed and its size and objectives reduced. One of the outcomes is that Oxfam's archivists will not be able to provide assistance to external researchers for the foreseeable future (probably 1-2 years). The only exceptions that might be possible is if the research is likely to be of significant value to Oxfam. For more up to date information, contact Oxfam directly.
In any case, "automatic access to certain items and series where information is still considered sensitive is only granted to the originating department or its successors. Requests for access from elsewhere for such material are referred to the originating department, its successors or other appropriate authority.  All external research requests must be submitted in writing for consideration and must be accompanied by an academic reference wherever possible. A search fee is payable. Before access is granted, external researchers are required to declare the purpose of their research and to agree in writing that any information extracted from Oxfam records will be used for the declared research purposes only and that, before publication, a copy of any research will be submitted to Oxfam for comment". (extracts from "Oxfam GB Archive and Records Management Policy": 5.1, 2007).

Size of Collection46 racks (20 to 30 linear metres each) 7 filing cabinets of prints and transparencies 4 cupboards of folders of contact sheets (the equivalent negative sheets are in the archive) 1 plan chest of posters
Finding Aids/Catalogues

There is no complete catalogue of material held in the Oxfam Archive. A variety of databases and lists exist that act as finding aids. These can be made available for researchers. A catalogue based on a functional approach to the material exists. Material added formally to the archive is listed according to this catalogue. A short guide to the records held in the archive used to be available to researchers online but has been removed from the website (see notes under "Access rights"). See also Oxfam Archive Catalogue Structure (word document, 250 KB).

Reference of Catalogue
Additional information

Some branches of Oxfam (Jersey; Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk; Lewes, Sussex - ref. AMS6011, see online catalogue; Mere, Wiltshire, ref. 2776/80-82, see online catalogue) have deposited their papers in local repositories (source: NRA and A2A).


There are records relating to Oxfam in the papers of one of Oxfam's past chairman (Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts: The Papers of Charles Alfred Coulson, F.R.S) (see online catalogue; see especially CSAC 60.4.78/F.5).


There are also records relating to the early development of Oxfam in the Papers of Raymond Andrews (West Sussex Record Office: Additional Manuscripts, Catalogue 43, Add Mss 46354-46355; see online catalogue).


Some other scattered material relating or belonging to Oxfam is listed in several A2A and AIM25 catalogues (there is, for example, correspondence with Oxfam mentioned in the online catalogue of the records of Christian Aid).

Source of InformationContact with Oxfam, January 2009; Dango Questionnaire 2006; NRA; A2A; Aim25;
Last Edited at09/04/2009 10:47:53