Collection Development Policy

“Collection development” is the term archivists and librarians use to describe growing and enhancing the collections. It cannot be separated from donor engagement, because to ensure that the books and documents of the past are available for the students and scholars of the future, Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC) depends on the help of all persons interested in preserving Louisiana’s unique culture. If you know of New Orleans letters, diaries, club records, or other materials that warrant permanent preservation, please contact us.

Neither can collection development be separated from assessment. To ensure that new acquisitions remain relevant and focused as society evolves, TUSC is guided by a continually updated collection development policy that states its selection criteria and goals. The selection criteria are closely linked to the five distinct sections within Special Collections:

  • The Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz supports the study of New Orleans musical culture from the late 19th and 20th centuries forward. Strengths include oral history interviews, photography, sheet music, personal and business papers, and audio and video recordings. It seeks to expand its holdings to include New Orleans representations of the broader Black American Music experience.
  • The Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) supports most aspects of Louisiana research with a focus on New Orleans. Strengths include Carnival, the Civil War, Jewish studies, LGBTQ+ and gender studies, politics, social welfare, and literature. It seeks to expand its holdings relating to Black Americans, Asian-Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, and the counter-culture.
  • The Rare Books Collection preserves roughly 100,000 titles spanning from a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible to recent first editions. It is currently focused on collecting print materials from New Orleans based literary presses, New Orleans and Southeastern writers, and artist books.
  • The Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA) is one of the larger collections of architectural records in the southern United States. Strengths include architectural photographs and 19th and 20th century architectural plans and drawings. It seeks to increase its holdings to reflect the contributions of underrepresented communities to New Orleans architecture.
  • The Tulane University Archives acts as the institutional memory of Tulane by preserving Tulane University’s official records. While it continues to acquire administrative and departmental records, it is currently focused on expanding its holdings pertaining to student groups and the Tulane student experience.
Collecting Focuses

Each section has specific collecting interests, however, overarching themes across sections offer opportunities for a division-wide acquisitions focus.

Environmental Justice

TUSC’s holdings include the records of 19th and 20th-century Louisiana architects, the records of New Orleans architectural firms, records and ephemera of preservation organizations, the records of more than thirty horticultural and environmental societies, extensive photographs of the area’s built environment, ephemera of environmental groups, maps recording four centuries of Louisiana’s changing landscape, 17th and 18th-century travel narratives recording Louisiana’s flora and fauna, records of Tulane University environmental justice organizations, state environmental and land use reports, the Koch Historical Botany Library, and the Irish Channel Survey.

  • TUSC intends to expand collecting areas to better document the role of the natural and built environment in underserved communities, the role of women in historic preservation, the effects of climate change on the city, links between race and environmental justice, the records of organizations fighting the racial inequities of climate change, and environmental advocacy.
  • Highly-desired materials include diaries, journals, and correspondence of environmental preservation, historic preservation, and environmental justice activists; records of environmental justice organizations; ephemera recording New Orleans-area environmental activism; records of student organizations devoted to climate change activism and environmental protection.

Performing Arts

While TUSC’s Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz is internationally-renowned, TUSC’s performing arts holdings also encompass theatre, opera, and classical music. Collections represent music figures including Paul Barbarin, Al Hirt, Allison Miner, and Louis Prima; music educators such as Leon Maxwell, Henry P. Wehrmann, Louis Panzeri, Walter Jenkins, and Virginia Kock; composers Eugène Chassaignac and Giuseppe Ferrata; the records of performing arts organizations such as the New Orleans Friends of Music, the Musica da Camera, and the records of the American Federation of Musicians Local 174-496; architectural plans and photographic documentation of theaters in New Orleans; and extensive performing arts ephemera (programs, broadsides) from the 1830s to the present.

  • TUSC intends to expand collecting areas to better document additional related styles of Black American Music, including ragtime, gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, and Creole songs; New Orleans music and music artists of the late 20th century; contemporary jazz artists and events of New Orleans from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; brass bands; New Orleans Black Masking Indians and Mardi Gras Indians; the music, music making, and musical cultures of people of color, including but not limited to African Americans and Latin Americans; female and female-identified artists; music clubs, lounges, and venues; underground, alternative, and counter-cultural theaters; and activist theater events.
  • Highly-desired materials include diaries, journals, and correspondence of performers, composers, and producers; business records for local media and performing outlets; theater programs and other performance ephemera; photographs and architectural plans of early movie theaters, opera houses, and other performance spaces; ephemera and photographs from local concerts and events; and Tulane University records of campus performing arts organizations.


From its founding, one of TUSC’s special interests has been documenting the contributions of women to New Orleans. TUSC is also a major repository of holdings documenting Louisiana’s LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Among TUSC holdings are the personal papers of Lindy Boggs, Hilda Phelps Hammond, Ethel Hutson, and Angela Gregory; records of women’s organizations such as the Quarante Club, the YWCA, the Independent Women’s Organization, the Women’s Exchange, the Louisiana Women’s Committee, and the National Council of Jewish Women; papers of LGBTQ+ leaders Skip Ward, Stewart Butler, Laurence Best, Frank Perez, and Rich Magill; records of LGBTQ Community Center of New Orleans; extensive ephemera from LGBTQ+ restaurants, bars, clubs, krewes, and Gay Pride; and LGBTQ+ publications such as Ambush, Impact, the Rooster, and Southern Voice.

  • TUSC intends to expand collecting areas to include the contributions of Black and Asian-American women and documentation of the New Orleans bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, and non-binary communities.
  • Highly-desired materials include diaries, journals, and correspondence of Black and Asian-American women leaders;  diaries, journals, and correspondence recording personal reflections of transgender and genderqueer people; records, design drawings, and ephemera of LGBTQ+ carnival organizations; records of organizations committed to opposing violence against women and sexual minorities; and records of Tulane University student groups supporting women, Black, Asian, and LGBTQ+ students.

Tulane University Archives

The University Archives preserves the official records of Tulane University and archival material that document the history of Tulane. It collections inactive records from Tulane’s offices and departments, in addition to any records that reflect the official business of the university.

  • Ongoing collecting areas include administrative records from all Tulane offices; theses and dissertations; University publications (e.g., alumni magazines, student publications, printed material from Office of Communications, Freshman Directory, Commencement programs); images that depict campus activities and student life in New Orleans
  • Highly-desired materials include records of recently established offices and initiatives on campus (e.g., President’s Commission on Race and Tulane Values, Renaming Committees); student organizations’ records; documentation of student activities, both current and past (e.g. collegiate scrapbooks of alumni); documentation of underrepresented communities at Tulane


TUSC also welcomes financial donations to help fund special services or to purchase acquisitions it could not otherwise afford. Please see Giving for more information on how you can support us.

Materials That TUSC Cannot Accept
  • Reproductions of materials from other archives
  • Widely-distributed sound and video recordings
  • Duplicates of materials already held
  • Clippings, photocopies, or scans
  • Facsimiles of extant materials
  • Widely-available publications
  • Objects and works of art
  • Academic research files
  • Current or active records
  • Faculty, staff, and alumni papers
  • Old copies of Jambalaya yearbooks, with a few exceptions
  • Student scholarship, other than work completed to receive a degree (theses or dissertations)
  • Music instruments
Guidelines For Donors

TUSC curators work with donors to manage new acquisitions. If your material does not fall within our collecting guidelines, our curators will try to help you find a more appropriate repository. If you are interested in donating materials to TUSC, please follow these guidelines:

  • Do not send materials without prior consultation. Instead, contact the appropriate curator or the Director of Special Collections to discuss your potential donation.

  • Please provide sufficient information about the materials to allow an informed decision to be made. This should include a description, an inventory, and photographs. Once that information is received, your curator may wish to make an onsite visit to evaluate the materials.

  • Review the materials for privacy concerns. Be aware that you are responsible not only for your own privacy but also for the privacy of third parties who may be mentioned in your donation. Everything we acquire must be made available for everyone to use on an equal basis, but if necessary, we can restrict selected materials from public access for a brief, defined period.

  • Please identify any photographs (names, date, location) with a soft lead pencil on the back of the photograph.

  • Most donations will include some items that we do not need, such as duplicates of things we already have or items that do not meet our acquisitions policy. Donors may choose to have those items returned or may us to handle them as we think best, including transferring or trading for items we need. In this way, even inappropriate materials may still benefit TUSC or other repositories.

  • Understand that this will be a permanent gift to Tulane University governed by an Act of Donation, which we will ask you to sign.

  • Smaller donations should be delivered to our loading dock. TUSC can arrange for the delivery of larger donations.

Tax Considerations

Under current United States tax law, donors who wish to receive a tax deduction for gifts with a value over $500 but less than $5,000 must file a completed IRS Form 8283; the completed form must be submitted to Tulane University Special Collections. The Director of Special Collections will sign to verify receipt of the gift and return the form to the donor.

For gifts with a value exceeding $5,000 a donor must secure a formal appraisal to accompany the IRS Form 8283. TUSC can neither financially appraise nor recommend an appraiser for your donation. A copy of the appraisal should also be submitted to Tulane University Special Collections along with the completed 8283 tax form, which the Director of Special Collections will sign and return to you. The IRS Form 8283 and instructions for completing it can be found online here.