Collection Development Policy for University Archives

General Description of Collection

University Archives holdings include official records, publications, and websites emanating from any unit of the University as well as records, publications, and websites of University affiliated organizations including student groups and organizations, and publications edited by students. The personal papers of faculty are collected by the Archives and usually include correspondence, research papers, and teaching materials, but can include photographs, art work, film, video, and audio tapes. There are more than a million photographic images (prints, negatives, slides, and digital files) that have been donated to the Archives by University Relations, Athletics, the Alumni Association, and individual donors. Thousands of reels of movie film and video and audio tapes document sporting events, student activities, departmental and faculty research, and speeches and university promotions. Maps, drawings, and blueprints of the campus and buildings document the growth of the University. Although artifacts are not actively collected we have accepted donations of items related to the University such as medals, plaques, sports tickets, statues, pins, etc. A growing part of the Archives are its digital collections including born digital materials such as websites and digital photos and materials transferred from analog formats to digital formats.

User Population

The user population includes University staff, administrators, and departmental staff. The Endowment Association, the Alumni Association, University Relations, and Athletics use the holdings of the Archives quite regularly. University faculty and students use the collection for research and class projects. Local and national media groups contact us for information about the University particularly sports related topics. We also receive many inquiries from the general public regarding family members who attended KU.


(including levels of intensity - strengths and weaknesses)

Collection strengths include the records of the Office of the Chancellor; photographs, clipping files, film, and video of athletes and athletic events; photographs, blueprints, and informational files of campus buildings; documentation of student activities; biographical files, photographs, personal papers, and oral histories of faculty.

A collection weakness is the paucity of records from contemporary student organizations.

Collection Parameters

(including dates, geography, types of materials, formats, and languages)

University record parameters are documented in the University General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. Materials date from 1865 when the University was established to the present. Types of material include paper records, newspapers and periodicals, photographs (prints, negatives, slides and digital), oversized items such as blueprints and drawings, audio tapes, video tapes, movie film, and born-digital formats.

Other historical materials collected are limited to items relating to the University.

Not Included

Materials not related to the University.

Selection Process

The university records selection process is guided by the University General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. The selection of the papers of faculty and staff follow the Guidelines for the Donation of the Personal Papers of Faculty and Staff (see below). Other historical materials such as artifacts are appraised by the University Archivist and must relate to the University.

Guidelines for the Donation of the Personal Papers of Faculty and Staff

The University Archives is the repository for the personal papers of faculty and staff as well as for the records of the University. The Archives preserves and makes these materials available to aid in research in the history of the institution and on the development of academic disciplines. The personal papers of faculty and staff provide a rich source for historical research. The following guidelines will assist faculty and staff in identifying those portions of their files that are appropriate for placement in the Archives.

Items likely to be of archival interest

  • Biographical information: resumes, vita, bibliographies, memoirs, genealogies, published and manuscript biographical sketches
  • Official University correspondence and files: outgoing and incoming letters and memoranda relating to departmental and University business, committee minutes, reports, and files
  • Professional correspondence (outgoing and incoming): with colleagues, publishers, professional organizations, and former students;speeches and presentations
  • Teaching material: one copy of lecture notes, syllabi, course outlines, reading lists, and examinations
  • Research material: field notes, photographs, drawings, travel notes
  • Publications: one copy of all articles, books, reviews
  • Audio-visuals: photographs,negatives, slides,films, and sound and video recordings
  • Personal and family correspondence, histories, diaries, photographs
  • Ephemera: scrapbooks, memorabilia

Items not suitable for donation

Items which generally should not be donated without prior consultation with the Archivist include:

  • Detailed financial records, canceled checks, and receipts
  • Routine correspondence especially non-personally addressed mail and routine letters of transmittal and acknowledgement
  • Grade books and class rosters
  • Recommendations written about students or colleagues
  • Duplicates and multiple copies of publications, course materials, all other duplicate material: keep only the original and heavily annotated copies
  • Typescripts, drafts, and galleys of publications and speeches unless the final publication or presentation copy is unavailable
  • Books, research papers, journal articles, and reprints written by other persons
  • Research notes and data if a summary of the data is available and transferred; bibliographic notes and notes on readings. Because of the wide variation in the nature of research data; it is best to consult with the Archivist before discarding research notes and data.
  • Large items such as statues or works or art

Materials should be transferred in the order in which the faculty or staff member maintained them. A letter briefly identifying the material and describing the activity to which they relate should accompany the donation.

Increasingly records of all types exist in electronic form, e-mail, documents, data files, etc.The University is in the process of developing guidelines for the proper creation, handling, management, and disposition of information in these formats. Inform the Archivist at the time of the donation if information in electronic formats is included with the material being donated.

This list is intended as a general guide. Because of broad variations in personal papers, it is advisable to consult with the Archivist to determine how your own files relate to these guidelines. Exceptions often are made after a review of the condition under which the documents were generated and their potential usefulness.

When in doubt, do not throw it out!

Connections with Other Collections

(both within and outside KU)

The University Archives is connected most closely with the Kansas Collection also located in Spencer Research Library. Since KU is within the environs of Lawrence and Douglas County there is a bit of overlap in some areas.

Deaccessioning Policy

Deaccessioning is guided by the University General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.

University Archives Contact