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Collecting Policy for the Southern Historical Collection


This document describes the core collecting objectives of the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) in the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It outlines current collecting focuses, then, as context and background, briefly presents the SHC's mission, collecting rationale, relationships with other repositories, and collecting methods. Note that collecting interests extend to original and unique materials in all archival formats, including handwritten and typed documents, oral histories and other audio recordings, still and moving images, and born-digital materials.

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Collecting Scope

Geographically, the collecting range of the SHC is the American South and its border states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. North Carolina materials often get priority attention, given the SHC's commitment to support the University's mission of teaching, research, and service to the citizens of the state and the development of strong archival programs throughout the South that are able to preserve the history and cultural heritage in their own communities.

Chronologically, the SHC seeks materials dating from the earliest instances of written records relating to the South to the present day. Time period emphases for specific collecting areas are noted below.

The SHC also seeks materials that relate to or expand its existing collections.

Within these frameworks, the SHC emphasizes a number of specific collecting areas. Some areas are built on collecting successes over the years. Others are being actively developed by more recent curatorial initiatives. SHC staff regularly review and modify collecting areas as appropriate. Particular areas may be chosen for special attention for periods of time. Brief collection development statements follow for the subject areas currently in focus.

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Collecting Areas

Each subject area statement has two parts: a brief review of the history of SHC collecting in that area and a statement of our current collecting interests.

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Mission of the Southern Historical Collection

The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) encourages the study and appreciation of the history and culture of the American South by collecting, preserving and promoting the use of unique documentary materials of enduring historical value. The SHC does this to enable users to derive meanings from the southern past and to support the University's mission of teaching, research and service.

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Collecting Rationale

Scholarly research value is the fundamental criterion for collecting primary source documentation in the SHC. In addition, staff may also take into account items' exhibit, outreach, and instructional potential.

Collecting focuses are chosen on the basis of research community needs and SHC collection strengths, as well as knowledge of collections and collecting at other repositories. The SHC seeks to make its contribution to the research community by building on the collection strengths that made it the premier research institution for southern studies, and by carefully choosing new collecting focuses, which are reviewed periodically.

Acquisitions that do not fall into existing collecting areas sometimes are made in anticipation of new emphases.

The SHC acquires materials in a wide variety of formats-handwritten, typed, digital, still and moving images, sound recordings, and print. A strong preference exists for materials that are both original and unique, though associated materials that do not have these two characteristics may be accepted. The SHC is chiefly interested in substantive groups of materials that document an individual, family, or organization. Individual items relating to existing collections or containing exceptional research value will be considered. The SHC supports placement of the entirety of a collection in one repository rather than dispersing parts among repositories. Recognizing that manuscript collections often develop over time, the SHC welcomes donations that are to be placed through multiple additions.

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Relationship to Other Repositories

The SHC has a strong relationship with other libraries, archives, and cultural heritage institutions in the University of North Carolina system, across the state, and throughout the region.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the SHC works closely with the constituent collections of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library: the Southern Folklife Collection, the North Carolina Collection, University Archives and Records Service, and the Rare Books Collection. As mentioned above, the SHC's collecting efforts are primarily focused on acquiring substantive collections of original and unique primary source materials from southern individuals, families and corporate bodies. Materials not falling under this definition or within the scope of the SHC may be appropriate for partner collections in the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. If possible, staff will make referrals to suitable repositories within and outside the Wilson Library.

The SHC has a strong history of collaboration with other institutions throughout North Carolina and the region. The SHC has worked closely with special collections at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and the North Carolina State Archives in making appropriate collection development decisions within the boundaries of each repository's scope and resources. The SHC will continue to foster relationships with these institutions and will attempt to build new relationships with other libraries and cultural heritage institutions across the state and region.

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Collecting Methods

Ultimate responsibility for collecting materials for the SHC rests with the Director of the Southern Historical Collection, in consultation with the Director of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library and other staff members, including those in public and technical services. Other SHC staff and members of both Technical Services and Research and Instruction Services departments contribute to the SHC's collection development and collecting initiatives.

Donation is the preferred method of acquisition, and staff solicits gifts of materials from individuals and organizations. Deposits, in which ownership is not and likely will not be transferred, are considered only in exceptional circumstances.

The SHC purchases collections from dealers and auction houses and, rarely, from individuals or organizations. Purchases are funded by endowment income.

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