Archives have a very important role to play in documenting our history and heritage, preserving our memories; recording our testimonies and reinforcing identity creation.  How can we document the history of migration within our archives?

Welcome to the Living Refugee Archives online resource. This website has been developed by staff within UEL’s Library and Learning Service Archives department to provide a central resource for accessing our digital and physical collections.


Are refugee archives well-represented in relation to the preservation of lived experience of refugees and migrants? If not, why is this? Who gets excluded from refugee-archives, and in what ways? How could we improve access to refugee research archives?

Initial research that we have undertaken has indicated that archives which detail issues pertaining to migration and refugee issues within the UK are potentially scattered between a number of different archival institutions. One of the projects we would like to undertake in order to further develop and enhance the Living Refugee Archive will be an archive mapping project which we hope will eventually lead to the beginning of a more comprehensive overview of the range and types of archival collections that exist which can help to reflect the voices recorded within this collections to a wider audience.

Our aim will be to incorporate both traditional physical collections and to map these in combination with newer forms of archival collections, including community archives, born digital archival collections, oral-history recordings and multimedia collections.

The Docklands Library at the University of East London has over for over a decade been the home of the Refugee Council Archive.  Originally established in 1951 as two separate organisations, the British Council for Aid to Refugees (BCAR) and the Standing Conference on Refugees (SCOR), the Refugee Council has a long history of providing support and assistance to refugees from across the world.

Since the arrival of the Refugee Council Archive at UEL in November 2002, our Archival collections have continued to develop and expand both in the fields of refugee and forced migration studies and beyond.  The Mission Statement for the UEL Archives now reads:

“The Archive seeks to identify, collect and preserve original and unique records that document the history of the University and its academic interests, and to facilitate their accessibility for teaching and research use by academic staff, students, local communities and the wider public.”

The UEL Archives therefore play a key role in supporting the learning, teaching and research needs of the University.  Our current archival collections support UEL learning, teaching and research in the fields of refugee, conflict and forced migration studies; theatre studies and sports and Olympic studies.

Further details about the Archival Collections that we hold here at UEL are available by following the links detailed below: