Super Serious University Archives Appraising Collections for acquisition

Learning Objectives

  • Students will given a prepared collecting policy, make decisions based on this collecting policy and have the ability to explain the reasoning for making these decision.
  • Students will offer suggestions to make to the collecting policy.

consider assigning members of the class to groups depending upon class size. Students will not self select into groups. If working with a small class consider walking the class through the scenario. Also consider creating breakout areas either in d2l, google, etc.


You’ve been hired as an archivist at Super Serious University Archives. This archives at a mid-sized regional university has a completed and detailed collecting policy. The archives space is small but a planned renovation with triple the size of the space in one year. You are given several collections and are asked to appraise them based on the policy below.

Collecting Policy: Super Serious University Archives

University Archives

Faculty Office

A faculty member is retiring. You’ve been called to help this faculty member move their paper collection to the archive. The faculty member was involved with creating several new varieties of apples. His materials comprise his work computer that has research data, lecture notes, and email. His paper records contain faculty senate papers, some research note, patent information, and materials related to his teaching. Note that all of his research was funded by a private company that is not based in the region.

Student Bulletin Boards

Members of several student organizations have approached your archives about documenting current campus student life in a much more complete way. They’ve suggested that you need to find away to document the events on campus better that your current collecting practices of only taking the official calendar for the university. As examples of records, they have brought you posters for student events. This is what they wish for you to collect.

Administrative Office

The provost of the university is leaving campus for another position at another university. Their office files contain administrative records going back nearly twenty years. This includes mostly paper records. The IT department also share with you the disk image of the provost’s computer. One of the workers mentioned that he saw a “lot of personal” stuff on the image as they were making it.

Student Group (Men’s Rights Group)

Before the ALT-right was at a common term shouted over the American dinner table, SSU had it’s own men’s right group that fits right in with the current alt-right understanding of world. This group created in reaction to the push for the Equal Rights Amendment and has been operated in some fashion since that time. This group has an on again off again relationship with student affairs. They have previously been a recognized student organization but were booted in 1999. The group is currently fighting their rejection as a formal student organization from last year. You’ve been offered their materials up to 2000. These are exclusively paper records.

Community Collecting

Home Movie Collection

You’ve been offered the materials of a local camera shop that has gone out of business. Included with the business records are many duplicates of home movies that the shop had made in agreement with local customers. The shop was to hold the duplicates as backup for the community. The agreements for all of these duplicated movies are intact and apart of the collection. In addition, the owner of the shop collected rare prints of hollywoods and international films, including some nitrate films.

A prominent family

A prominent family in your community, one that has had multiple legislators and a state official, would like to donate a family collection to your archives. This collection will comprise family records as well as the personal papers of several of the families political person. The catch is that includes a lot of large pieces of furniture, including desks, sofas, painting, etc. The family will not separate out the furniture pieces.

Women’s Civic Organization

You’ve been offered a collection for women’s organization that form to support the ERA. This group did not disband after the amendments failure but continued on to become a group that supported women’s issues through a combination of activism, community service and fundraising. This groups materials are mostly paper based, but they’ve become extremely active on twitter in recent months.


Small Company, Big Company

A major agricultural company in your area does not want to maintain it’s business archives. This organization has existed for over 100 years and played a significant role in your community. This company was recently purchased by a major international agribusiness. The new parent company is fine with the archives being transferred to your college. This division of the major company will continue to be located in your community and may continue to add to their collection.

Family Farm

You’ve been offered a small family farm collection. This includes several journals, scrapbooks and a box of letters. The family has some concerns about one of the scrapbooks created by an late aunt. They are worried that the contents will paint the family in a bad light. This aunt was a lesbian and active in the women’s civic group.

Local Rodeo Organization

The local rodeo organization would like to work with your archive to help it maintain its vast holding. It currently has materials going back to the 1950’s and the founding of the rodeo. This includes paper and photographs, but also audio visual materials, including concert records and filmed events. The event also has small collection of digital materials that will continue to grow over the years.


  • Based on the collecting policies that you have been given.
    • What are the decisions you will make for the collections that you’ve been offered?
    • Why did you make these decisions?
    • How will the politics as Super Serious University impact the decisions that you’ve made?
    • For collections, you choose to acquire you must deal with the acquisition process and note the issues any issues that will need to be resolved in the deed of gift or purchase agreement.
  • Now given the collecting policies that you currently have, what changes would you make to them?
  • Create a plan for focusing on collecting more for your institution. How would you market to potential donors? How would you solicit more collections.


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