What type of materials does Special Collections acquire?


Special Collections acquires materials in support of the teaching and research of TCU faculty and students, as well as historically significant items relating to the history and culture of TCU and the larger community. Formats collected include printed books; archives and manuscripts; broadsides, prints, and sheet music; photographic and audiovisual materials; digital resources (including web pages); artifacts; and other formats as appropriate.

In order to fulfill our mission of being the primary source for TCU historical material, selection for the archives emphasizes records created by university faculty, staff, and students. The archivist is responsible for making accessioning decisions and will work with other library and campus departments as necessary when bringing new material into the archives. Only those records deemed to have enduring value will be selected for permanent preservation in the archives.

We continue to build on traditional collection strengths obtained through donations and other opportunities while also responding to changes in faculty interests  and university curriculum by developing new collections. We are committed to developing the following collections through the acquisition of unique and distinctive items not held by other libraries. We also select items on the basis of exhibit and outreach potential. The current list of priorities covers areas in which we have funding support for purchases. Donations are accepted in all areas where appropriate.

Additionally, Special Collections actively accepts transfers of materials from circulating stacks that require special care regardless of whether they meet these criteria. As circumstances change, the collecting areas will be reevaluated and modified as appropriate.

Rare Books


Collections in this category are the focus of targeted collecting and are the most frequently used by faculty and students.

Colonial Spanish America

Existing Strengths: Manuscripts and imprints with a focus on Mexico and Peru; facsimiles of Mesoamerican codices

Current Focus: Manuscripts and imprints with a focus on Mexico and Peru; annotated books with features of use and provenance; incunabula; items that fill gaps in collection of facsimiles of Mesoamerican codices

English and American Literature

Existing Strengths: Early modern drama, especially Shakespeare; reception of Shakespeare; English STC titles; association copies; early periodicals and serials in original, unbound condition; collected authors including Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and George Elliot, Shelley, and Oscar Wilde; holograph manuscripts

Current Focus: Early periodicals and serials in original, unbound condition; items to fill in any gaps among collected authors, especially annotated and association copies; Arthuriana; holograph manuscripts

Music History

Existing Strengths: This collecting area is under development.

Current Focus: Colonial Latin American music; piano music and treatises; manuscripts or annotated editions; medieval liturgical manuscripts with musical notation; competitions, especially anything Cliburn that we may not already have; French Baroque

Minority Studies

Existing Strengths: This is a new collecting interest that aims to reflect current curricular needs at TCU.

Current Focus: Items in all formats that document the history of groups marginalized on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality in the United States and around the world


Existing Strengths: Maps and atlases of early influential cartographers

Current focus: Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century maps and atlases not widely represented in other institutions; New World maps


Collections identified in this category are traditional collection strengths of MCBL that are less frequently used by faculty and researchers.

History of the Bible

Existing Strengths: Polyglot Bibles; Torah scrolls; early English Bibles

Current Focus: Polyglot Bibles; significant early English Bibles; psalms


Existing Strengths: Humanist Hebraism; Bomberg imprints; nineteenth- century Yemeni manuscripts

Current Focus: Humanist Hebraism


The following categories, though traditional collection strengths, are not active priorities at this time. Nevertheless, items may be acquired in response to special opportunities.

Western Americana

Existing Strengths: County and municipal histories; ranching industry; outlawry; novels

American Presidency

Existing Strengths: Lincolniana; nineteenth- and twentieth-century books about American presidents


Existing Strengths: Materials published in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Fine Press

Existing Strengths: Small presses with an emphasis on English literature, book arts, Texana, and Western Americana

Reference Collection

Existing Strengths: Major reference sources on cartography, typography, book illustration, printing, publishing, paper, bindings, bibliography, and history of the book; departmental and desk reference books

Archives and Manuscripts

University Records

In order to document the operations of the university and to preserve its history, Special Collections welcomes and encourages departments and offices to submit records to the university archives. The following types of documentation are often selected for permanent retention:

  • Minutes, memoranda, correspondence, and reports of the Board of Trustees
  • Records of the Office of the Chancellor, including correspondence, administrative subject files, reports, and minutes from the Chancellor’s Cabinet meetings
  • Correspondence, subject files, and reports of all administrative offices
  • Correspondence, subject files, and reports of the deans, directors, and administrators of the schools, colleges, divisions, and programs of the university
  • Correspondence, biographical material, research files, lecture notes, and syllabi from faculty members
  • Minutes, memoranda, and reports of all major academic and administrative commissions, councils and committees including the Faculty Senate and Staff Assembly
  • Departmental records, including minutes, reports, correspondence, and syllabi
  • Accreditation reports and supporting documentation
  • Annual budget and audit reports
  • Records of student organizations including the Student Government Association, Graduate Student Senate, and the various groups working toward diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Alumni records, including the minutes of the Alumni Association and papers, correspondence, and publications of prominent alumni
  • All publications distributed in the name of TCU including catalogs, yearbooks, student newspaper, newsletters, press releases, event programs, and selected ephemera
  • Photographs, negatives, slides, audio and video film, tapes and reels, oral history interviews, and materials in any digital format that document the development of the university
  • Maps, prints, and architectural drawings documenting the physical changes and development of the university

TCU Faculty

Faculty papers play an important role in documenting the history of the university and are a welcome addition to the university archives. The following list provides a general idea of what types of material are valuable for preservation in the archives:

  • Official, professional, and personal correspondence
  • Records relating to service outside the university including community, state, and national service
  • Biographical material including resumes, bibliographies, biographical sketches, chronologies, newspaper clippings, and personal memoirs
  • Photographs
  • Diaries, notebooks, and memorabilia
  • Lecture notes, syllabi, and copies of speeches and/or addresses
  • Audio or video tape recordings of lectures, speeches, and discussion
  • Research files
  • Published, monographs, articles, and reprints written by the faculty member
  • Drafts and manuscripts of unpublished articles and books
  • Departmental or committee minutes and records

Fort Worth History

In order to assist in the preservation of the history of Fort Worth and to better serve researchers in the community and on campus, the archives will seek to acquire appropriate Fort Worth historical records whenever possible.

Fort Worth historical records appropriate for the archives include:

  • Papers (correspondence, photographic images, subject files, and select memorabilia) of prominent Fort Worth or Tarrant County residents
  • Records documenting the history and operation of businesses or organizations in Fort Worth or Tarrant County

Personal Papers/Organizational Records (Non-TCU)

The archivist will work with donors to identify materials of research interest that should be preserved. Certain materials pertaining to the Disciples of Christ are welcome and may be accepted at the discretion of the archivist. Although not all papers and records fall within the collecting scope of the archives, the types of materials listed below are often valuable.

Personal and Family Papers:

Letters, diaries, speeches/lectures, albums/scrapbooks, memoirs/reminiscences, photographs, professional files, genealogical information, films, videotapes and audiotapes.

Organizational Records:

Articles of incorporation/constitution/bylaws, correspondence, planning documents, architectural records, legal documents, diaries, minutes of meetings, reports, memoranda, newsletters and other publications, directories, financial documents, press releases, membership records, and research and subject files.

Because the research value of papers and records may be diminished if items are removed or rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact the archivist before discarding or rearranging materials.

Material Types Not Collected

Materials are not collected if they violate FERPA or otherwise contain the personally identifiable information of students. This includes student classwork and grade reports. Because the archives prioritize original records, and because storage space and staff time to process collections are limited, the archives does not collect materials that have little to no research value such as plaques, awards, and trophies, or research copies collected from other archives, unless their research value is evident or circumstances are exceptional.

Transfer of Materials to the Archives

After working with donors to identify materials appropriate for preservation, archives staff will make arrangements to have the papers or records transported to the TCU Library. At the time of transfer, both the donor and a representative of Special Collections will sign a gift agreement legally transferring the materials from the donor to the archives. The placement of oral history interviews in the archives requires the execution of Special Collections' release of intellectual property rights by all interviewees and interviewers.

If necessary to protect the privacy of the donor or others, restrictions on access to sensitive material may be negotiated during the transfer process.

  • Last Updated Nov 08, 2022
  • Views 29
  • Answered By Ann Hodges

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