Collections policy

In order to fulfil its mission statement: “we protect, preserve and promote milling history for people to learn from and enjoy”, the Mills Archive will seek and acquire historical and contemporary records of mills and milling. This policy defines the scope of the material collected and describes the collection process.



The archive collects historical and contemporary material on mills and milling, including millwrighting and the place of the mill in social as well as technological and architectural history. We will retain items not directly related to our subject area when these are donated as part of a larger collection and their disposal would damage the archival integrity of the collection.

Geographical area

Worldwide, although the focus will be on the United Kingdom.

Chronological period

All periods, but the main focus will be the modern period from the 18th to the 21st centuries inclusive.

Genre or media of records held

The archive will collect the following:

  • photographs (prints, slides, negatives etc.)
  • documents (field notes, architectural plans, deeds, business records etc.)
  • published material (books and reports)
  • digital files which can be converted into the preservation formats specified in the digital preservation policy
  • small artefacts of milling relevance.

Records in other formats (e.g. film, other forms of digital material) will not be actively sought, but we may retain such material where it is offered to the archive as part of a larger collection.

Maps will not be retained except when they have special significance in the context of an archival collection, or date from before 1850.

The Archive will identify gaps in its holdings and seek to acquire collections accordingly. This will be the subject of the Collections Development Plan which will be produced by the archivist in consultation with the trustees and reviewed every two years.


The Mills Archive Trust does not seek to compete for material with other archives. In acquiring records every effort will be made to avoid conflict and duplication with the collecting policies of other repositories. In all cases we shall work with other archives and donors to ensure material is placed in its most appropriate home.

No attempt will be made to secure the acquisition or removal of any records held in another record repository, except with the consent of the owner of the records and in consultation with the archivist in charge and governing body of that repository.

The archive will make every effort to avoid splitting collections. Where the majority of the collection falls within the scope of the archive (see above), we will retain the whole collection, including the material on related subjects which are not directly in our scope. Where we are offered part of a collection of which part is held already at another repository, we will recommend that the collection donor first offer the material to that repository.

Collections where the majority of the material falls outside of the scope of the archive will not be accepted.

Where the collection falls within our scope, but relates entirely to a specific location we will notify the relevant local authority archive service and discuss the most appropriate deposit arrangements.  Factors which may be taken into account include the location of related records, the significance of the specific site to the subject area, subject expertise and the wishes of the depositor.


Collections will be acquired by donation and purchase; deposits on loan will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Responsibility for deciding whether to accept material lies with the archivist in consultation with the chairman of trustees.

Conditions associated with accessions:

  • It is a condition of acceptance that documents shall be available for public access either immediately or at the expiry of a specified period.
  • Acquisition of records will depend on the appropriateness of the Mills Archive as a suitable place for their custody and consultation and will respect the principles of archival integrity.
  • No records will be acquired or disposed of in contravention of the terms of any current legislation and in particular the Public Records Acts, the Manorial and Tithe Documents Rules and the Parochial Registers and Records Measure.
  • Before accepting records, the Mills Archive Trust must be satisfied that the donor has proper authority or title to transfer them and in the event of acquisition by gift the Governing Body and the donor or owner of the records shall fully acquaint each other in writing of any terms or conditions attaching to the transfer.
  • We will also seek to acquire intellectual property rights to the material from the owner of these rights, if known, or agree on a licence permitting us to reproduce the material.

When the archive has agreed to accept a collection of material, the donor will be given an acquisition form to complete, transferring ownership, detailing the agreement we have reached regarding intellectual property rights and specifying any further conditions or restrictions. This and any related correspondence will be stored in the accessions files. The material will be accessioned in line with the specifications of the accessions procedure.


In accordance with the wishes of depositors, as expressed at the time of transfer, we shall evaluate and remove from archival collections those documents deemed not to be worthy of permanent preservation.

Copies of published material may be removed from collections to the library, postcard collection or press cuttings collection at the time of accession or cataloguing. Duplicate items in these collections may then be sold in the online shop to raise funds. These items are only removed where their removal will not damage the archival integrity of the collection (as detailed in the Cataloguing procedure). Where items are removed, their existence, removal and current location is noted in the ‘Archival history’ field of the catalogue entry.

In all other cases there is a presumption against the disposal, by any means, of records accepted into the record repository unless:

  • it is found that they belong more properly with records in another repository, in which case they may be transferred there with the consent of both governing bodies.
  • the Mills Archive becomes unable, either temporarily or permanently, to provide proper care for them, in which case they will be transferred to another appropriate repository with similar overall objectives on such terms as may then be agreed in writing with both governing bodies.
  • the donor requests their return.


The archive will maintain contact with donors of material by adding them to the mailing list for our enewsletter and inviting them to any events held at the archive.


This policy statement is based on that originally approved by the Trustees in January 2002. Responsibility for ensuring the policy is adhered to lies with the Archivist. The policy will be reviewed every three years.

v5 14/04/2022