In 1388, the University acquired the first “Archa universitatis”. The Rectors used this reinforced iron archive chest to store the deeds and seals that provided the legal foundation of the University.
In the modern period, professors of the theological and law faculties were appointed to the position of university archivist.
The oldest comprehensive catalogue and finding aid dates back to 1708. In 1875, Karl Schrauf was employed as the first full-time archivist and historian at the Archive. He merged the historic holdings of the different locations and made them available for research purposes.
The Vienna University Archive, including the “Amtsbibliothek “ (former library of the Rectorate) and the “Schausammlung/Universitätsmuseum” (permanent exhibition/university museum) became a service and research centre focussing on the history of the University and the history of science. As of 1975, it was a separate division of the university directorate. With the introduction of the University Organisation Act in 1993, it became a service unit on 1 January 2000. With the implementation of the 2002 Universities Act also in the provisional Organisation Plan, the Vienna University Archive became a subunit of the Vienna University Library and Archive Services on 1 January 2004.
Since 1 January 1997, the Vienna University Archive has been home to the Austrian Society for the History of Science.
For a detailed history of the Archive, please read Kurt Mühlberger’s article “Schätze aus sieben Jahrhunderten: Das Archiv der Universität Wien” (treasures from seven centuries: the Vienna University Archive).