There have been various long-running university publications which are variously useful for anyone interested in the history of the university. They are introduced on the following tabs in arguably order of significance.
Durham University Calendar 1833-date
This first appeared in 1833, became an annual publication from 1835, and last appeared in hard copy in 2009 whereafter it has been updated on the website with an annual archival electronic copy being retained. It is particularly useful as a regular listing of the members of the university, that is those both still students (with those not graduating being retained for some years after they might actually have left the university) and those graduated from the university, retained on the list until death. This annual record of members ceased to be produced in 1937. Other types of information recorded variously in the Calendar include:
Calendar of the academic year's events/principal meetings
Some local adverts
Chief officers of the university and academic members of staff, by department from 1939, with their degrees detailed, and their promotions recorded in the index, also membership of the university's committees/boards etc
All members of the university until 1937, with, for graduates, the index recording their latest degree awarded and the year
Charters, Acts, Statutes and Regulations of the university, with a brief history of the university
Degrees awarded each academic year, by congregation, until 1937
Honorary degree holders complete list of all those then alive, by degree, then alphabetically
Pass lists for all exams, until 1937 (sometimes just the total number passing rather than names); those failing are not recorded
Subjects and syllabuses to be studied
Exam papers until c.1880
Prizes, scholarships, fellowships with details of their value, who established them, and who was awarded them, until c.1937
Academic dress for all the university's degrees
Colleges of the university detailing their arms and officers and, until 1937, their members both current (by course then matriculation date) and graduates by degree
Durham University Journal 1876-1995
The Journal was one of the earliest such university publications in the country. It is an invaluable adjunct to the Calendar for information on all aspects of the university in Durham (The Northerner is a similar organ for the Newcastle colleges) until WW2 when it becomes a journal of academic articles with only a brief synopsis of university news added. Publication was initially two or three times a term which again reduced after WW2. The main types of information recorded in this earlier period include:
Termly lists of university and college officers of the principal sports clubs and societies
Reports of sports teams matches with some lists and even analyses of players, concerts, and Union Society debates
Exam pass lists and congregation lists for a while
Some news of alumni such as clergy appointments
Editorials discussing current issues in the university
Notices of honorary graduations, including orations
Some articles on aspects of the university
Correspondence on issues of the day, such as the admission of women, often anonymous
Durham University Gazette 1898-1939 & 1953-1986 (with also a Durham Colleges Gazette 1950-1953)
The Gazette was the official publication for academic news about the whole university (so including the Newcastle colleges until 1963), produced several times a year, including information such as:
Finals pass lists and congregation lists
Lists of higher degrees awarded with titles of theses
Appointments, promotions, resignations and retirements of academic staff, with some biographies of incoming staff
Obituaries of former staff
University academic news concerning Senate, Council, changes in departments, grants secured
Reports of the University Society (for alumni) and the Excavation Committee's activities
Lists of university publications
Palatinate is a newspaper which has been produced by students generally fortnightly during term since 13 March 1948. It features stories about the university and college life, with topics such as the governance of the university and rents and accommodation regularly featuring. Wider issues also appear, insofar as they affect university life, and there is much on the student drama, music and art scene, food and drink, entertainment generally, and university and college sport. It incorporates images as well as text and has now spawned an online presence. For the student perception of the university, it is invaluable.
Other student publications
Palatinate has been the longest running but by no means the only student magazine/journal/newspaper seeking to provide a variety of prose and poetry, news, gossip and sports and society reports for student consumption in Durham in the wake of and as a contrast to the more official Durham University Journal. The waning of initial enthusiasm, problems of securing adequate copy, and financial difficulties along with on occasion official disapproval meant the lifespan of many was brief but some have persisted to provide a less reverent Durham focus on life at the university from the late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries.
The Undergrad began with something of this varied vein of material on 18 February 1886 and lasted 3 issues until 30 November 1887. In Statu Pupillari revived the genre on 17 June 1893, proclaiming itself “The Lawful Successor” of its predecessor which had “perished at the hands of the Warden and Senate”. A second issue of the same title in a rather different format appeared in 1894. No.1 of The Critic appeared on 23 June 1894 and a 2nd edition of The Whirligig survives, undated, but possibly for June 1902 when The Jabberwock made its first appearance, with a second edition surviving from probably the following year. Meantime, Blue Stocking had issued its first number in February 1903 with the familiar editorial declaration of “not entering into competition with … The D.U.J.” and being concerned with “fancies, some, indeed, based on facts”. This journal reached issue 5 by November of that year. Its relative success was exceeded by The Sphinx which first appeared on 9 March 1905 and had produced fully 8 volumes by June 1922 when it seems to have expired.
An issue of The Wear survives for Michaelmas 1922. The Palatine also appeared in December 1922 with an editor elected by the S.R.C.. Although this editor felt “confident about the future” in the second number in March 1923, his organ was then being challenged by the independent periodical The New Durham which issued its first number in the same month and which had incorporated its rival by its second issue of June 1923. This had produced two volumes of numbers by Epiphany 1927 before embarking on a New Series in Michaelmas that year, run by a committee from the JCRs of the Durham Colleges who elected one of their number as editor. The New Durham was more successful than most, persisting until June 1962 and the demise of the Durham Colleges. It had meantime been joined, briefly by The Vision for an issue in Michaelmas 1945, and, more permanently, by the above S.R.C. newspaper The Palatinate in 1948.
In more recent times, other short-lived student magazines (copies on open access in the printed local collection at Palace Green Library) have included: Lead Balloon (2 issues, c.1980); The Idler (5 issues, [1981-1982]); Inside Out (1 issue, 1984); The New Idler Incorporating Drone (1 issue, 1985).
With the Durham University Journal becoming an academic journal by WW2, there was for a time a lack of a less formal organ for communicating news around the university. The productions that came to fill this gap were:
- Termly Lectures and Meetings Lists 1958-1986, listing public lectures and society meetings.
- “Next Week” 1961-1987, a weekly listing for Durham Colleges and then Durham University, generally sent out on Tuesdays for events beginning the following Sunday detailing special lectures, talks, debates, society meetings, social events, film shows, concerts, dramatic performances, athletic and sporting events, and exhibitions.
- “Next Week Supplement” 1979-1985, being a similarly weekly listing of fellowships, scholarships, studentships, awards and grants.
Then followed various attempts at a staff newsletter:
- University of Durham Newsletter 1981-1982
- Bulletin 1985, "a new newspaper for the university", with articles on events and developments around the university.
- Newspoints, 1986 fortnightly (in term time) digest of university news items.
- Password 1987-1994 The newsletter of the university of Durham, produced approximately termly or twice-termly, with news of appointments, research awards and articles on all aspects of university life.
- Password Headlines Service/Headlines 1993-1999 A fortnightly digest of university news and information, including staff vacancies, obituaries, sporting and academic achievements, honours, events, and media coverage of university happenings.
- The News 2000-2007 A staff newsletter published three times a year, at the end of each term, aiming to cover a wide variety of material including general news, research success, sport, outreach work, personal achievements, with a popular regular feature, “Under Investigation”.
- Dialogue 2007-date Newsletter for students and staff
More recently, the university has also produced newsletters for the wider community within and around Durham:
- Unity 2005 - 2006, a termly newspaper for the Durham and Stockton communities
- Durham University Community Newsletter 2018 - date, a monthly online newsletter,
Finally, there has been a more glossy Sunday supplement style magazine for the alumni community highlighting achievements and activities of the university, produced on a quarterly to half-yearly basis, which has been variously:
- Kingsgate 1992-1995
- Durham First 1995-2010
- DF 2011-2014
- Dunelm 2015-date
Most colleges also produce magazines/newsletters mainly aimed at their particular alumni communities on a generally annual basis.
The following 1914-1919 publications were digitised as part of the Universities at War project:
A number of these series have been digitised and are available online as follows:
Durham University Calendar, selected volumes 1833-1999
Durham University Journal, all 1876-1977
Durham University Gazette, some, 1898-1909 and 1968-1986
The Sphinx, volumes 1-8 most issues, 1905-1914 and 1919-1922
Palatinate, issues 1-419 (with occasional gaps), 1948-1987
Publications from the First World War period, 1914-1919
If you would like to purchase digital copies of specific items from any of our collections, please get in touch.
If you are a member of teaching staff at Durham University and would like to use material from Archives and Special Collections within your lectures or seminars, we may be able to scan or photograph items for this purpose. Please contact us as early as possible with any teaching digitisation requests.
See also our guide to Digitised Collections Online for further information on our digital resources.
The collections mentioned above are located at Palace Green Library. Our current opening hours are below.
For further information on visiting to use the collections, please use our enquiry form.
See separate Libraries and Site Information guide for further information on Palace Green Library.