From 1978 the possibility of establishing archives for the University of Pretoria was mooted. In that year Prof. E.D. Gerryts, the then Director of the Library Services at U.P., strongly advocated the need for a university archives in a report from the Library Committee. In reaction to this, the Executive Committee of the Senate of U.P. appointed the U.P. Archives Committee, with Prof. A.N. Pelzer (Vice-rector) as chairman, to investigate the matter. After the death of Prof. Pelzer in 1981, Prof. Gerryts was appointed as chairman of the U.P. Archives Committee.
On Prof. Gerryts' request, the U.P. Archives Committee was dissolved in 1988 and replaced by an ad hoc committee, under the chairmanship of Prof. P. Oosthuizen (Vice-rector). The ad hoc committee had to inquire into all matters relating to policy, procedure and infrastructure for the meaningful control and preservation of archival and museum material, as well as the recording of U.P.'s history. On 2 August 1988 the Rectorate accepted the proposals of Proff. J.S. Bergh and O.J.O. Ferreira of the Department of History and Cultural History, but these were not provided for in the budget.
It was with the transfer of record management to the Department of Academic Administration in 1994, that the Registrar, Prof. C.R. de Beer, expressed his concern regarding the lack of a comprehensive archives management policy. A task group, with Prof. de Beer as convener, was thus set up to investigate the matter and to present the necessary recommendations for the consideration of the Management. The task group recommended, among other things, that the preservation and arrangement of applicable archival material must be carried out within a central archives space according to a comprehensive preservation policy and strategy and that a university archivist must be nominated and the necessary infrastructure set up. These recommendations were approved on 13 September 1994 by the Management of the University and this date can thus be regarded as the founding date of the Archives of the University of Pretoria. The institution of the post of university archivist became possible after the Department of History and Cultural History consented to give up 50% of a professorship for this purpose.
An Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of the Registrar, determines the policy of the Archives and serves as an advisory body for matters relating to the archives.