Refugee Council Archive at UEL

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?


The University of East London’s Library at Docklands has been the home of the Refugee Council Archive for over a decade. According to the Archives Hub database, there are several other archives documenting refugee lives which co-exist in London and beyond. Questions arise as to who accesses these archives? 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.

Please also explore our Living Refugee Archive website for further details on the civic work we have been undertaking with the Archives.  You may also wish to view our new open access online journal: Displaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage available at