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Refugee and Forced Migration Studies: Archives

Subjects: Refugee Studies


There are a number of archival collections relevant to refugee and forced migration held in both the Bodleian Social Science Library and the Special Collections housed in the Weston Library (see below).  Readers may also wish to search the catalogue for Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts to find additional material for their research.


Terms you may encounter in your research

A collection of documents and records that contain historical information, or a place where these documents and records are kept.

Digital archive
It is similar in purpose to a physical archive, but the historical documents and objects that provide evidence of the past have been digitised (either by scanning or photography, or was created digitally in the first place) and made available online.

Personal Papers

In archives, personal papers are denoted as the private documents and related materials accumulated by an individual in the course of a lifetime (letters, diaries, journals, legal documents, etc.).

Special Collections

A special collection is a group of items, such as rare books or documents, that are either irreplaceable or unusually rare and valuable. For this reason special collections are usually stored separately from regular library collections in a secure location with environmental controls to preserve the items for posterity. The largest concentration of special collections in Oxford can be found in the Weston Library.


Personal papers in the Social Science Library

The Bodleian Social Science Library holds three collections of personal papers:

  • Betts collection - papers of Tristram Betts, a leading Africanist in the field of refugees during the 1960s and 1970s
  • Weis archive - papers of Dr. Paul Weis who was a key figure in the drafting of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
  • Cooper archive - papers of Major Derek Cooper, covering his time in the Middle East from the 1950s until the late 1990s

The Library also houses the Refugee Health Collection, deposited by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the LIPS (Lebanese Information Processing Service) collection which covers events in Lebanon from 1985-1992 and is owned by the Centre for Lebanese Studies.

To consult the Weis and Cooper archives please contact Sarah Rhodes to arrange an appointment.

The Betts, Refugee Health and LIPS collections can all be searched via SOLO, Oxford Libraries' catalogue, and documents should be requested from the Issue Desk.

Refugee archives in Bodleian Special Collections

Listed below are a number of archival collections relevant to refugee and forced migration held in Special Collections at the Weston Library.. 

Key refugee archival databases

The Bodleian Libraries subscribe to the databases below which focus on archival materials for refugee and forced migration studies.

Other archives

In addition to the refugee-related archives held in the Bodleian Libraries there are also a number of finding aids to locate other collections in the UK.