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The Manuscripts Department administers virtually all archival material held by the Academic Affairs Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Department's holdings include over 20 million manuscript items, 88,000 photographs, 160,000 audio recordings, 18 million feet of motion picture film, and 3,000 video recordings, occupying about 30,000 linear feet of shelf space.

Descriptions of all manuscripts collections and many other holdings are available on the Library's online catalog. On this server, there are finding aids (either detailed, descriptive inventories or summary descriptions) for about 4,200 of the approximately 4,800 manuscript collections in the Southern Historical Collection and General and Literary Manuscripts and in the Southern Folklife Collection. There are also about 240 inventories for the approximately 260 record groups in the University Archives.

The North Carolina Historical Society began collecting manuscript materials in 1844. On 14 January 1930, the Board of Trustees of the University established the Southern Historical Collection as a permanent home for the documents the University Library had inherited from the then defunct Society. History Professor J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, provided with an endowment fund given by Sarah Graham Kenan, served as the Southern Historical Collection's first director. By the time Hamilton retired in 1951, the Collection held an estimated 2,140,00 items.

Succeeding directors continued an active acquisition program, and the Southern Historical Collection expanded in both size and service. The name of the administrative unit within the Academic Affairs Library changed to Manuscripts Department, with holdings organized in three separate components: the Southern Historical Collection, General and Literary Manuscripts, and University Archives. In 1985, the Department added a fourth unit--the Southern Folklife Collection, created to document the region's expressive traditions, especially in music.

Annual Report, 2002-2003
Annual Report, 2001-2002
Annual Report, 2000-2001
Annual Report, 1999-2000
Annual Report, 1998-1999
Annual Report, 1997-1998