UCD Archives acquires collections from institutions and bodies within the university and from external sources. Since its establishment in 1971 it has developed a collections profile centred on a core of political private papers. This continues to be the main focus of its collecting policy.

It also sought from an early point to acquire and preserve the archives of those bodies which had preceded the establishment of UCD and were subsumed into it. Responsibility for university and university-related archives was formalised with the establishment of a University Archives Service in 1997.

A developing relationship with the Order of Friars Minor has resulted in the signing of the UCD-OFM Partnership Agreement. As part of this agreement an initial transfer of non-Franciscan private paper collections from the Franciscan Library Killiney to UCD Archives took place in 1997. More recently the renowned collection of Irish-language manuscripts designated ‘A’ Manuscripts, including the Annals of the Four Masters, has been transferred as part of a programme to enhance the preservation of the manuscripts.

UCD Archives is a contributing repository to the UCD Digital Library.