The Archive of the University of Coimbra (AUC) is the depository of the invaluable documentation produced and received by the University of Coimbra, founded by D. Dinis, on March 1, 1290. The Archive of the University also includes the documental resources of the District Archive, which is associated to the AUC.
The AUC’s mission is ‘the conservation, enrichment and technical treatment of our bibliographic and documental patrimony, to support education and research and the growth of a tailored cultural activity’.
The most ancient document is the parchment of the Guimarães Collegiate Church, dated from the year 983.
The oldest references to the Archive can be found, indirectly, in the transcription of the Royal Charter, of November 17, 1525, regarding the election of the University’s Rector, at the end of which one can read that the original can be found in the research registry (o “original jaz no ezcanino do cartorio de studo”).
After the Pombalin Reform carried out at the University of Coimbra at the time of the Marquis of Pombal (1772), the Estate Registry Office was separated from the Secretarial Registry Office which included documents pertaining to the life of academia.
In 1848, the institution loses its status as a Private Registry Office and becomes a Public Archive by decree of the Law Chart of May 23 of the same year which authorizes the sale of the University’s assets in public auction, at the time already incorporated in the National Property.
In 1901, promulgated by decree no. 4, June 12, the Archive becomes an autonomous division of the University. That year, the first Director is nominated, Doctor António de Vasconcelos, author of an important study on the institution: the Archive of the University, published in the University’s Year Book and reedited by the Archive of the University of Coimbra in 1991.
On the other hand, the decree-law of August 19, 1911, determines that “All the books, documents and processes that are not necessary for the service…shall be sent to the Archive in order to be conveniently catalogued and filed”, and that “In the Archive all the books of ancient writing and all the documents, both in parchment and in paper, in the possession of the University, shall be stored.”
With the incorporation of the documents from other institutions, the Archive’s patrimony became richer and more valuable, becoming, de facto, since 1917, and since 1931, de jure, the District Archive of Coimbra.
In 1948, the Archive is transferred to its current facilities, at the time the only department with facilities built for specific purposes; simultaneously, and in accordance with decree-law no. 46.350, May 22, 1965, the Archive became an adjoining department to the Rectory building; and its director was to be chosen ‘among the three University professors designated by the Senate”.
After six years under the charge of the IPPC (1980-1986), decree-law no. 287/86, September 6, places the Archive of the University of Coimbra under the Ministry of Education and Culture of the time, once again, and where it remains until today.