AUC University Archives Mission and History

As an integral and active leader of the educational and academic process, the AUC libraries create an environment that provides access, tools, content and services to advance learning, teaching and research, scholarship and personal enlightenment locally and globally.  

The University Archives serves as the repository for materials documenting AUC’s history and contributions, serving administrative needs and facilitating research by internal and external scholars. Activities pursued toward these ends include acquiring, preserving, and providing access to records, publications, oral histories, and other material of historical value (including archival collections related to Egypt’s heritage), supported by the efforts of AUC Records Management.


  • Acquires records, publications, and other material of historical value that document the operations and life of the university.
  • Preserves archival holdings by providing secure, climate-controlled conditions, conservation treatment, and appropriate archival storage supplies.
  • Ensures, through AUC Records Management operations, that records generated by university units are retained for as long as necessary for administrative, legal, financial purposes; stored securely; retrieved efficiently; and disposed of or transferred to permanent custody as appropriate.
  • Describes and arranges archival materials to facilitate researcher access and establish administrative control.
  • Provides reference services to meet the needs of researchers at the university (administrators, staff, faculty, students) and beyond the AUC community. 
  • Supports teaching and learning at AUC and beyond through student use of primary sources related to AUC history.
  • Offers instruction in using its holdings, through presentations to classes and other groups as well as individual assistance to new users.
  • Permits the university to draw upon its heritage, via outreach efforts like publications and events, in order to connect with its students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, and the wider public beyond the AUC community.
  • Promotes awareness about the American University in Cairo’s history through presentations and exhibitions.
  • Assists university offices in handling inactive records, through AUC Records Management guidance on how long to keep records, records center storage, and records disposal services.


As early as 1947 AUC administrators expressed interest in the preservation AUC’s historical records; in September of that year President Emeritus Charles R. Watson wrote his successor John Badeau of his “hope that someday we might have a full time historically minded Librarian who would add to his duties the conservation of such material and other that he would collect.”

By the late 1960s records from the office of the president were being transferred to the AUC library, but concerted action toward the creation of university archives began with the arrival of Visiting Assistant Professor Lawrence R. Murphy, a historian, in 1972.  With the goal of writing a book-length history of the American University in Cairo, Murphy undertook a survey of university records and publications “currently scattered across the campus,” including the rooftops of university buildings

Having assembled those materials in the library in Hill House, in 1972 and 1973 Murphy proposed to AUC’s administration developing official university archives with an ongoing collecting program, formal policies, and sufficient personnel. The library took steps in this direction, with the hiring of graduate assistants to work in a University Archives unit.  From 1975 through the early 1990s the library’s Special Services Department (later Special Collections Department) was responsible for the University Archives operations and holdings, kept in the new library building opened in 1982.

In 1992 the Special Collections Department merged with AUC’s Creswell Library to form the Rare Books and Special Collections Library (RBSCL), and that year the University Archives were moved to the library’s new facility in a restored 19th-century villa on Sheikh Rihan Street near Tahrir Square, with a library staff member assigned to its management on a part-time basis.  A full-time University Archivist was hired in 2001, joined in 2007 by a second full-time archivist and later Digital Collections Archivist. In 2007 AUC President David Arnold approved the creation of a Records Management program under the administration of the University Archives. The University Archives moved into the RBSCL’s facilities in the library building on AUC’s New Cairo campus, in addition to Records Center facilities elsewhere on campus, in 2010.