Collection Policy Statement
Special Collections acquires, arranges, preserves, and promotes the use of rare and unique materials that support the information, instruction, and research needs of the University of Tennessee community. Special Collections seeks to create and provide broad access to local collections for scholars in regional, national and international communities, as well as the general public. Materials are acquired in all formats, although priority is placed on books and manuscripts, and include both primary and secondary sources.
Collection Program Objectives
Special Collections builds collections of manuscripts, books, and other unique primary research materials, primarily in support of the scholarly community of the University of Tennessee and the residents of Tennessee. Priority is placed on materials with a strong state and regional focus. Special Collections seeks new initiatives and acquires new collections to support changing academic needs and interests. Special Collections continually seeks to create improved access to local collections through digitization efforts.
Special Collections focuses its collecting activities with an awareness of the collecting priorities and holdings of other local, state, and national repositories. In general, Special Collections attempts to avoid duplicating or dividing collections. Special Collections seeks to build collections in areas not well covered by other repositories.
Special Collections works closely with other departments in the University Libraries, including Research Collections and Scholarly Communication, to acquire, manage, and provide access to collections. In addition, Special Collections collaborates with related university departments including the Center for Jacksonian America, the Center for the Study of War & Society, and the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy.
Special Collections primary responsibility is to the University of Tennessee’s faculty and students. Priority is placed on building collections in subject areas that receive significant and sustained attention within the University community. Special Collections also serves scholars from other institutions, national and international, as well as the general public.
Description of Major Collections
The rare book collection contains approximately 60,000 titles, including many titles published before 1700 and several thousand published during the 18th century. The vast majority of the titles have publication dates from 1800 to the present.
The primary focus of the collection is Tennesseanna, and it is the largest collection of Tennesseanna in the world, providing colorful and vivid accounts of the developing nation from the perspective of the region. Among the most notable items are Davy Crockett’s Almanacs and the first set of the Acts and Journals of the Tennessee Legislature.
Significant holdings include materials from or related to the following subjects:
- The “Frontier” period, extending from immediately after the American Revolution through the presidency of native son Andrew Jackson
- Native American history
- The presidencies of Tennesseans Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James K. Polk
- Civil War and Reconstruction
- Religion in Tennessee
- Literary collections by/about Alex Haley, William Congreve, Evelyn Scott, and James Agee
- A collection of early voyages and travels
- The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Collection
The manuscript collection contains approximately 7,000 linear feet of private papers, literary manuscripts, business records, political files, broadsides, and historical records primarily relating to Tennessee and the Southeast.
Significant holdings include papers and documents related to:
- Clarence Brown, film director
- Admiral David G. Farragut
- Alex Haley
- Wharton Family Papers
- Civil Rights
- Native Americans
- Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Radiation Research
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Appalachian Folklore
- Civil War
- World Wars I and II
The University Archives maintains the institutional legacy of the University and serves as the official repository for the University of Tennessee, with materials deposited on a voluntary basis. The collection consists of approximately 4,000 linear feet of records and small collections of prints, photographs, ephemera, and electronic records.
Included in the collection are the official unpublished records of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. These historically important materials include the papers of UT Presidents, minutes of the Boards of Trustees, records of student organizations, and files from most of the University's academic departments and administrative offices. Archives is also dedicated to collecting the published works of the University of Tennessee, including books detailing the history of the university, student newspapers, UT Press publications, and yearbooks. The University Archives also retains copies of all official University Theses and Dissertations dating from the early 1900s to 2004.
The Archivist has primary responsibility for acquiring materials and managing collections for the University Archives. The primary acquisition method for Archives is through gifts and transfers from university departments. In addition, the Archivist identifies appropriate collections for deposit in the institutional repository, Trace.
Programs Supported by the Collections
Many of the University of Tennessee’s academic programs and research initiatives rely upon Special Collections for resources. The collections support the curriculum campus-wide, and some specific areas include the Architecture, Information Sciences, Anthropology, and the Chancellor’s Honors programs. Certain programs in particular utilize Special Collections frequently including:
- History scholars exploring regional, national and world history
- English faculty and students conducting bibliographic studies of American, Tennessee, and British Literature
- Political Science faculty and students analyzing Tennessee political development
- Art and Art History students studying book arts, printmaking, and color theory
- Film and Theater program scholars examining costume and set designs
With the general scope of Tennesseanna, the library focuses on a few select topics for comprehensive coverage. These areas of focus are:
- Tennessee and the Civil War
- Tennessee political materials of the 1800’s
- Tennessee imprints
- Confederate imprints
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Religion in Tennessee, primarily 1800-1950
- Native American materials, primarily Cherokee and Creek Tribes
- 20th and 21st Century Tennessee authors
- Civil Rights activities in Tennessee
- The growth of Knoxville in the 20th Century
- Tennessee Valley Authority
- Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Tennessee Family Papers
- Early hymn books and shape-note song books
- Miniature books (10 cm. high or smaller)
- University of Tennessee history
If the items coincide with established collecting priorities, other materials are also considered:
- Books that exemplify historically important binding types or printing methods
- Association items
- Autographed books
- Significant First editions
- Limited editions of 250 or less
Collecting priorities change over time as academic research programs develop and diminish in the University. Special Collections attempts, to the extent possible, to anticipate future research needs of the University community. Areas of previous collection focus that are no longer developed include:
- The life and works of William Congreve
- The life and works of Jane Austen
- 20th -21st Century Tennessee Politics (Managed by Modern Political Archives in the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy.)
- Mexico and the Pre-Columbian cultures
- The National Parks of the American West
- Classical Greece, Turkey, and the Byzantine world
The Head of Special Collections is responsible for setting policy and coordinating collection development activities, in consultation with other University Libraries subject librarians.
Acquisitions through Purchase
Materials are selected and purchased from dealers, private individuals, or organizations. Purchases are funded by Special Collections acquisitions funds, endowment income, and donations.
Acquisitions through Gifts
Special Collections solicits gifts of materials from individuals and organizations, and often works in conjunction with the Library Development Office. Tennessee alumni, faculty members, and other members of the University community are encouraged to provide assistance in identifying potential donors.
Gifts to the University Libraries are tax deductible, but IRS regulations prohibit the University Libraries from providing estimations or appraisals.
In certain instances, potential donations may be deemed inappropriate for Special Collections due to content, condition, size, format, or other factors. When possible, these donors should be referred to other more suitable repositories.
- Duplication of holdings in Special Collections is generally avoided.
- Loan or deposit materials are accepted only in rare cases.
- In select circumstances, materials may be accepted with temporary use restrictions on condition that the materials are available for use within a reasonable period.
- With the exception of University Archives, gifts of artwork and other artifacts are generally not accepted due to the lack of appropriate storage for such materials.
Guidelines for the Deselection of Materials
Special Collections may deselect any materials that do not meet the selection criteria outlined in this policy. Special Collections will consider any legal restrictions and the donor's intent in the broadest sense.
Procedures for the deaccession or disposal of materials will be at least as rigorous as those for purchasing and should be governed by the same basic principles. The decision to dispose of materials must be made after consideration of the public interest and the needs of researchers.