The establishment of the McGill University Archives was announced in 1962 along with the appointment of McGill’s first University Archivist, Mr. Alan Ridge. The initiative toward an archives programme can be traced to an exchange of correspondence in the late 1950s between Professor John Irwin Cooper (Department of History) and then Principal F. Cyril James regarding "...the necessity for a survey of McGill University records...the establishment of University Archives..." and the need to " better appraise the University’s records." (MUA Records of the Principal RG 2 C246 F7401 "Archives and Records"). James’ announcement in 1962 recognizes the role of the records and archives for both administrative and historical purposes:
"All kinds of documents have been created in the course of administering the university and they are all, technically, archives forming part of the University’s memory. Yet not all the papers which have survived merit indefinite retention and it is one of the Archivist’s functions to advise on the relative value of any classes of papers..."
(RG 2 C266 File 8023 "Administration Archives and Records")
Storage for the University Archives was first located in the stacks of the Redpath Library, with the office of the University Archivist located in the James Administration Building. In 1971 the University Archives moved to consolidated storage, access and administrative offices on the Ground Floor of the McLennan Library, where it remains today.
- Yves A. Lapointe, Director and University Archivist 2017-
- Lori Podolsky, Acting University Archivist 2013-2017
- Theresa Rowat, Director and University Archivist 2007-2013
- Johanne Pelletier, Director and University Archivist 1997-2007
- Gordon Burr; Robert Michel, Interim Directors 1996-1997
- Marcel Caya, Director and University Archivist 1977-1996
- John Andreassen, University Archivist 1968-1977
- Alan D. Ridge, University Archivist 1962-1968
Annual reports between 1965 and 1980 detail successive developments in the holdings of the University Archives (including the extension of its collecting areas to include Montreal-based organizations with a connection to McGill), development of standards for description of holdings, and development of records management classification for the University community.