University Registrar's Office

History of the Registrar

The Registrar's profession is an ancient one that dates back to the medieval university where the beadle was considered an official or academic officer who proclaimed messages and executed the mandates of the university authorities.

In the United States, at the first institution of higher education (Harvard College, est. 1636), the registrar's academic record-keeping function was initially a part-time duty assigned to a faculty member. This status changed rapidly, however, as student enrollment in colleges grew. By 1880, 10% of the institutions of higher learning had full-time registrars, 42% by 1900, 76% by 1910, and over 90% by 1920.

On August 15, 1920, fifteen collegiate registrars assembled in Detroit, Michigan, to form a permanent national conference. In 1949, that organization added admission officers to its membership, to establish what is known today as the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).

AACRAO, the parent organization of many state and regional organizations, provides support to the various services, roles, and responsibilities of the Registrar's profession. Today, the historical responsibilities for records management, registration, and institutional data have been broadened to include an expanded role as leader in enrollment planning, student information technology, and enrollment services.