ELAR was originally funded by Arcadia in 2002 and became part of the SOAS library in 2014. The archive is the SOAS archive for endangered languages materials for SOAS staff and students and for grantees of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme. ELAR also archives materials of external parties as a service provider.
ELAR is a founding member of the Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network (DELAMAN), which was established in 2003 as an international umbrella body for archives and other initiatives with the goal of documenting and archiving endangered languages and cultures worldwide.
Since 2017, ELAR is part of the CLARIN Knowledge Centre for Linguistic Diversity and Language Documentation (CKLD), offering its expertise to researchers and community members across Europe.