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For many years, the University maintained an administrative distinction between ‘officers’, that is those in clearly defined academic or higher ranking administrative positions in what were known as ‘established’ posts, and all other employees of the University. This basic distinction in status of employment is reflected in the surviving records.

The University Archives holds records of University officers, both academic staff and high-ranking administrators – professors; readers; lecturers and assistant lecturers; academic-related staff working in museums and libraries; members of the central university administration. Prior to the twentieth century, these are not what would be regarded today as personnel records, but may instead be simple records of appointment or election and resignation. Modern personnel records of University officers exist from 1930, access to which is subject to data protection legislation. For the earlier period, a list of Cambridge University officers with brief biographical details, complete to 2000, is available online. The online list is compiled from various sources, chiefly the Cambridge University Calendar (1796 onwards) and The Historical Register of the University of Cambridge, which represent the first attempts to systematically list University officers and the holders of special posts. University officers also appear in Venn’s Alumni Cantabrigienses, the biographical register of members of the University to 1900.

The University Archives does not hold personal papers of members of the University but certain notable academic staff – Herbert Butterfield, Alfred Cort Haddon, Edward Joseph Dent, Ernest Rutherford, G.E. Moore, Joseph Needham and Joseph Stanley Mitchell to name a few – have personal papers deposited among the holdings of the Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts. Relevant personal papers may also be found among the archives of the Colleges.

Records for those staff who were not employed in established University positions (that is, assistant staff and, generally, those involved in providing technical and clerical services or support functions) are patchy. Relevant records may exist among the archives of individual faculties, departments or institutions but there is no single comprehensive source within the University Archives.

The place to look for records of staff employed directly by the Colleges  -  tutors, bedders or porters for instance - is the Colleges themselves. With very few exceptions, the records of the constituent Colleges of the University continue to be held by the Colleges themselves, to whom request should be made for further information.