Collecting Areas & Donating Materials
Principles of Collection Development
Our collecting is guided by these principles:
- Equity and Repair: The staff of the Barnard Archives commits to collecting work that is equitable, anti-oppressive, and centers voices, knowledge, and memory-making practices historically excluded from the archival record. Our collection development is informed by reparative and redistributive frameworks to actively confront histories of exclusion and allow users to see themselves in the archives.
- Access and Abolition: We collect materials so that they can be used by all. The Barnard Archives and Special Collections are open to all researchers, and the staff of the Archives strive to make our collections as accessible as possible, by removing economic and other barriers to collections for both in-person and remote researchers. We prioritize a welcoming environment instead of surveillance or credentialing of users.
- Privacy: Barnard Archives value the privacy of records creators and subjects as well as the right to refuse inclusion within the archives. We are also committed to researcher privacy.
- Networks of Care and Affective Responsibilities: We recognize our responsibilities to records creators, subjects, users, and communities (as well as to our staff and other archivists) and strive to approach these relationships with an ethic of care.
To learn more about our principles and how they work in action, read our full Collection Development Policy.
Collection Emphases and Strengths
Throughout the collecting areas below, we aim to build collections that speak to one or more of these emphases:
Pedagogical Connections: Barnard’s archives are teaching collections, and we aim to collect materials which will be used in teaching, learning, and research across the curriculum (and in extra-curricular uses) at Barnard.
Local Contexts: We actively seek collections that document New York City histories (as well as connections to global diasporas through the lens of the city), as an important geographic location for feminist and social justice work and thought.
Broad Access and Use: We are committed to providing broad access to our collections through description, digitization, teaching, exhibits, programming, and welcoming reference service and aim to build collections that invite many uses, including academic research, artmaking, activism and organizing, exhibition, and programming for Barnard communities.
Partnerships and Collaborative Collection Building: We are lucky to work closely with the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), the Barnard Zine Library, the Barnard Library Collections Strategy team, and other campus partners whose networks, collections or programming emphases, and approaches influence our collection-building.
Across the collecting areas noted below, and in addition to the history of Barnard College, collection strengths and areas we are prioritizing for strategic growth include:
- Feminist authors, with a growing focus on writers of color: Core collections include the Ntozake Shange Papers, the Annie Nathan Meyer Papers, the Jeannette Mirsky Papers, and the Alice Duer Miller Papers.
- Feminist study and struggle, with a focus on abolitionist and collective action: Core collections include the Barnard Center for Research on Women records, the Coalition for Women Prisoners Coalition, the Christine E. Bose Wages for Housework Research Collection, the Mirra Komarovsky Papers, the Sherry Suttles Papers, and the Barnard Organization of Soul and Solidarity (B.O.S.S.) Records.
- New York City feminist arts scenes and communities: Core collections include the Sabra Moore NYC Women's Art Movement Collection, the Dianne Smith Papers, and the Freda Leinwand Collection.
- Legal battles for reproductive justice and civil rights in the U.S.: Core collections include the Maggie Leigh Groff Abortion Control Act Records, the Kathryn Kolbert Planned Parenthood v. Casey Records, and the Shirley A. Siegel Papers.
- Zinemaking and feminist publishing networks: Core collections include preservation copies from the Barnard Zine Library (curated by Zine Library staff), associated zinester ephemera collections, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women Historical Periodicals and Feminist Ephemera collections.
To learn more about our collection emphases and strengths, read our full Collection Development Policy.
We collect in the following subject areas:
Personal and Professional Papers and Publications of Barnard Students and Alums: We collect the personal and professional papers of graduates (and people who attended Barnard) who have made contributions to feminist worldmaking in the arts, scholarship, and organizing. We are especially interested in collecting materials that tell stories that are not already well-represented in our current holdings, including collections that document the lives of Black, Indigenous, and alums of color; LGBTQ alums; working class and poor alums; and/or disabled alums. Collections in the Barnard Archives are over-representative of white, upper-middle class, able-bodied, and heteronormative alum experiences, and we are actively seeking to redress gaps in our collecting–this includes proactively pursuing collections as well as turning down some offers of collections.
Personal and Professional Papers of Barnard College Faculty and Staff: We collect materials that document the lives of College faculty and staff, particularly those who have made major contributions to feminist scholarship and/or organizing or the life of the College.
Records and Publications of Barnard College: College records are documents generated or received by the administration (inclusive of the Board of Trustees, President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Deans Offices); administrative offices (inclusive of the Library and Academic Centers; student services and administrative services); academic departments/programs, the faculty, and faculty committees; student government, student clubs, and informal student formations; records of student life at Barnard; and publications of any of these constituencies.
Special Collections: We acquire collections that are not created by individuals or entities affiliated with Barnard College, but that are related to broader feminist histories–particularly those which align with our collecting emphases, such as local contexts/New York City histories, and existing collection strengths, such as feminist study and struggle with a focus on abolitionist and collective action. We prioritize collecting materials created by Black, Indigenous, and people of color; LGBTQ people; poor and working class people; and disabled people.
To learn more about our collecting areas and desired types of documentation, as well as what we do not collect, read our full Collection Development Policy.
The primary responsibility for identifying and proposing the purchase or arranging the donation of collections lies with the Directors of Archives and Special Collections in consultation with the Dean of BLAIS, subject specialists in the Library, staff of the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Barnard Zine Library, and other experts or anticipated users. Because acquiring collections constitutes a long-term commitment to preservation and immediate commitments of resources for accessioning, preservation, and processing, we carefully consider acquisitions.
Materials may be selected for acquisition into the Barnard Archives and Special Collections when they meet the following criteria:
- The materials fit into one or more of our collecting areas, and align with one or more of our collecting emphases and/or strengths.
- The materials and agreements around their use align with our collection development principles.
- In consultation with subject specialists in the Library and/or other experts or anticipated users, Archives staff have determined that the materials have anticipated use.
- We can responsibly accept the materials and fulfill needs for stabilization, processing, preservation, and access.
- In general, we aim to not duplicate collecting efforts of other institutions or needlessly split closely related records (or records from the same creator) that researchers would better access at a single institution.
We select materials within the scope outlined in this document, regardless of format: we collect paper (inclusive of manuscript materials, photographs, published materials), all digital formats, and all audiovisual formats. We may not be able to provide immediate access to all digital formats or all audiovisual formats because of the unique transfer needs for these materials and limitations in our funding for their transfer. We collect but are extremely selective when accepting material culture and three-dimensional objects because of the unique storage and preservation needs associated with these formats.
We do not seek personal book collections. In some cases, when the book collection is small and significant—and is tied to a simultaneous manuscript donation—we may consider acquiring a book collection. We are also not actively seeking to acquire art collections, although artwork as a part of a larger collection may be considered. We do not collect awards (trophies, statuettes, plaques, etc.).
For collections that we do not accept, we will make an effort to provide creators with alternative repositories to contact.
Gifts, Transfers, and Acquisitions
Modes of collecting currently include gifts of records, transfer from college offices and departments, and, in select circumstances, acquisitions of high significance for the Archives and Special Collections through purchase.
The general process for acquisitions is as follows: All acquisitions of materials are governed by a deed of gift, an oral history deed of gift, a transfer record (for Barnard College materials), or a sale agreement. Deeds of gift and sale agreements include a title transfer and terms determining the management of the materials, access, copyright, deaccessioning, and electronic records. Sale agreements additionally outline the sale price and payment method. Archives staff and creators will review these documents together to understand each others’ expectations and will reflect these expectations in this documentation. Donations of oral histories must be accompanied by an oral history deed of gift, or another release/permissions form approved by the Director of Archives and Special Collections.
To allow us to make informed decisions, we may ask for more information about proposed acquisitions. This can take the form of an inventory, a visit, or other agreed upon methods. We will ask for specific information about any materials that may need to be restricted (for donor or third-party privacy, or for legal reasons) and any preservation concerns about the materials. When materials created by third parties are known to be present in collections being donated, the staff of the Barnard Archives may ask donors for additional information about provenance and permissions and to consider the right to privacy of third parties represented in their collections. If possible, we may ask donors to discuss these materials with those affected by their inclusion.
When choosing materials to donate or sell to the Archives and Special Collections, we encourage donors to consider:
- The context of the records: how and why they were created, what they meant to the creator, and how this is communicated
- The evidence contained in the records: we are likely to collect materials that can tell users something significant about the lives of their creators, and we aim to maintain the methods of organization relevant to their creators
- The uniqueness of the records: we collect materials created by donors, or, in a more limited way, the materials collected by donors that were influential and are difficult to find; we are less likely to collect widely-available materials, clippings, etc.
To learn more about gifts, transfers, and acquisitions, read our full Collection Development Policy.