The University of Melbourne Archives was established in July 1960, initially to collect and preserve records relating to the University and to business and business people for the purposes of historical research. The collection of nearly fifteen kilometres is now one of the largest non-government archives in Australia. The University's own records date from its foundation in 1853 and as well as administrative records, records of student societies and the personal papers of many former academic staff are available for research.
The business collections include the records of wholesalers and retailers, factories and foundries, solicitors and architects, along with the records of some of Australia's largest mining companies.
From 1973 the Archives began to collect trade union and other labour history material and more than one hundred trade unions are now represented in the Archives' collections. During the same period the Archives also began to collect records of professional, community, women's, peace and political organisations.