Collection Development Policy for the Wilcox Collection

Mission/Statement of Purpose

The purpose of the Wilcox Collection is to acquire, preserve, and make available materials in all formats that document American left- and right- wing political activity from 1960 to the present.

General Description of Collection

The Collection includes books, periodicals, manuscript collections, ephemera (clippings, flyers, brochures, etc.), posters, photographs, phonograph records, audio and video tapes, and buttons and bumper stickers documenting a wide range of political and social topics. The origin of the collection, four filing cabinet drawers, was purchased by the University Libraries in 1965 from Laird Wilcox, a KU student. Wilcox has continued to add to the collection.

User Population

The primary users of the Collection are University faculty and undergraduate and graduate students in the following disciplines: American Studies; Journalism and Mass Communications; History; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Political Science; Sociology; and African and African-American Studies. Faculty and graduate students from other American colleges and universities as well as scholars from around the world also visit to do research in the Collection. We are also contacted by the news media when political events involving groups or individuals outside of the mainstream occur.


(including levels of intensity - strengths and weaknesses)

Strengths of the Collection include student protest from 1960 through the 1970s, anti-communist literature from 1960 through the 1980s, the environmental movement, underground newspapers from 1960 through the 1970s, women’s rights, the religious right, the gay and lesbian movement, tax protest and antigovernment movements, and race relations and civil rights.

Collection Parameters

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

Dates covered are 1960 to the present (although there are some materials that predate 1960).  Primary collection focus is the US but some organizations are concerned about areas outside of the US and almost all materials are in English.

Formats include: print – books, serials, ephemera (clippings, brochures, flyers, etc.), manuscripts (correspondence, subject and working files of organizations and individuals); audio/visual – phonograph recordings, audio cassettes, reel to reel tapes, video tapes and photographs; electronic files of the web sites of organizations collected in 2000 on cd.

Future collecting efforts would focus on the web to capture, manage, preserve, and make accessible the sites of targeted organizations and individuals. There are many decisions that would need to be made by the Libraries in order for this to be a viable project.

Not Included

Materials created by mainstream political groups and materials that are not political in nature.

Selection Process

Materials are donated by Laird Wilcox (approximately three times per year) and purchased from the Wilcox funds by the subject specialist. Materials are also donated by organizations and individuals that have heard about the collection or have used the collection for research.

Connections with Other Collections

(both within and outside KU)

Subject areas such as student protest and the 1960s are also represented by other collections within Spencer including the Kansas Collection, the University Archives, and Special Collections.  Government publications relating to issues covered in Wilcox can be found in Government Documents and the general collections will also have some overlap in general areas.

Other collections exist outside of KU that also focus on protest movements including the Joseph A. Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan, the Social Documents Collection at the University of Iowa, and the Gordon Hall and Grace Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda at Brown University to name a few.

Deaccessioning Policy

Duplicates are not cataloged into the collection and are set aside for possible trade with other institutions.

Wilcox Collection Contact

Spencer Research Library

Public Services