Board of Graduate Studies files

Board of Graduate Studies 1920-55

Board of Graduate Studies files

Board of Graduate Studies files

A project is under way in the University Archives to sort, clean and list the early student files of the Board of Graduate Studies or Research Studies as it was then known (classmark: UA BOGS 1, brief online description on Janus). Established in 1920 in light of the decision to launch the PhD at Cambridge, the Board maintained a file on every graduate student, successful and unsuccessful, comprising at the very least application papers, progress reports, financial records and examiners’ reports, and occasionally including photographs, off-prints, and personal correspondence after graduation. For the period 1920-37, that meant 1978 files in a single sequence, Abbasy-Zapoleon. Until 1935, R.E. Priestley (1886-1974) was principal Board administrator. An affable man, geologist and former Polar explorer who had been part of Shackleton’s expedition of 1907-9 and Scott’s of 1910-11, he formed lasting friendships with many graduates, who by 1935 still only numbered around 130 per year, especially those from the US. En masse, the files are an important source for charting the development of the modern research-orientated University. They are also replete with social detail, from the challenge of finding affordable accommodation or surviving the English climate to the trials and tribulations of field research in remote parts of the world.

The University Archives currently holds graduate student files up to 1955. Files are generally restricted for Data Protection reasons for 80 years from the date of enrolment, but individual files can be produced for researchers where it is known that all concerned are dead. Please contact Jacky Cox, Deputy Keeper of the University Archives (, with any enquiry.

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