Selection Guidelines for Potential Donors of Archival Materials

We invite your comments about the Immigration History Research Center's collection acquisition guidelines. We prioritize acquisitions in order to ensure that we have the resources to preserve and make accessible for future generations a remarkable and distinct group of documents for understanding immigrant experiences. For information about IHRC priorities, please read more.

The Immigration History Research Center is an interdisciplinary research center in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Founded in 1965, the IHRC promotes research on international migration with a special emphasis on immigrant and refugee life in the United States.

The archival and print collections of the IHRC are vast and focus on two streams of immigration. The first is that of chiefly European mass migration in the latter 19th century and the early 20th century, generally described as people migrating from the areas bounded by Finland, Italy and lands formerly known as greater Syria.

A second area of strength for the IHRC is the theme of 20th-century refugees, including post-World War II displaced persons, southeast Asian and African refugees, and others considered involuntary migrants.

The IHRC collects limited materials documenting other types of U.S. immigration. The Center provides representative documentation for many groups, particularly those who eventually came to Minnesota or the Midwest, are of special interest to University of Minnesota researchers, and whose materials generate useful comparisons in the field of migration studies. The IHRC does not comprehensively collect materials outside of its two main clusters of documentation, however.

The IHRC seeks to collaborate with, and not compete with, ethnic community efforts to preserve cultural materials. The IHRC cooperates with homeland repositories, American communities, and other repositories to ensure the greatest possible access to heritage materials created by immigrants.

Current Priorities for IHRC Acquisitions Are:

● Archival materials of first-generation immigrants 1880-1930 and first-generation refugees in the 20th century that fit within the two main collecting areas of the Center.
● Compact, information-rich, and predominantly manuscript collections; non-print collections sent as a whole or as final gifts of an estate to IHRC; and materials for which all rights are fully transferred to IHRC.

What Are Archival Materials?

Archival materials are the unique, original and unpublished documents created by a person or organization. These documents are evidence from the hand of a person or the operations of an organization. Letters, diaries, photo albums, minute books, original documents, correspondence files, or annotated copies of significant publications are good examples of archival materials.

Books, journals and newspapers are rarely themselves archival. Exceptions to this include a newspaper published by an organization that keeps an entire run of that newspaper for staff reference, or an author's book that he or she has added corrections to over time. These types of print can shed light on an owner's thought process.

Current books, newspapers, journals, etc., sent to IHRC at the time of publication are not considered archival because they are not the unique working copies of that organization. While we have tried to accept these materials in the past, we now must require donors to keep a complete set of their own publications and schedule regular acquisition of only historical publication files.

IHRC has begun scheduling 2011 acquisitions for...
● Archival materials that complete a collection (estate gifts or final donations by donor)
● Publications produced as a result of IHRC collections research (books, articles citing IHRC collections)

To discuss acquisition of materials, please contact Haven Hawley, Program Director of the IHRC, at The IHRC will attempt to answer information requests, although we have fewer staff than in the past due to budget cut backs. We ask all potential donors to fill out a Collection Donation Survey (below) to help us evaluate requests. As you consider whether to request for IHRC to evaluate your historical materials for possible acquisition, please keep several things in mind:

IHRC staff will to the best of our ability consider ...
● Materials from family members after the death of relative or community member, demise of immigrant organization or environmental emergency
● Archival (not print) supplements to collections that are pre-arranged
● Archival materials immediately relevant to staff research projects
● Important individual books from lists of publications prepared by donors
● Supplements to existing collections of materials more than 10 years old (these must be scheduled, even with existing donation agreement)

IHRC is NOT accepting at this time ...
● Book collections or other publications provided as a group. We have an enormous backlog of print materials, and we must first select and identify duplicates before we can accept more.
● Non-archival materials. Our highest priority is preserving space for unique items that otherwise will not be saved.

We appreciate your support in our mission of preserving immigrant voices through donations of material, financial support and your goodwill to the University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center.

Collection Donation Survey
Immigration History Research Center

Your Name ___________________________________________

E-mail _______________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________

City _______________________ State ______ ZIP ___________

Date for filling out this form: ________________________

Are you the donor? Circle one: Yes No
(If no, please provide donor's name, your relationship to donor and relevant contact information)

Are these materials related to an existing collection at IHRC? Circle one: Yes No
If yes, how are they related? Are you arranging a donation to complete the collection or to add to it?

Where are these materials stored? Do you have concerns about their condition or environment?

What is your target date for donating these materials? If you have a special reason for urgent donation, please let the Program Director know. We will keep that information confidential.

What immigrant group's experience do these relate to? What time period? What language(s)?

Archival Materials are unique, unpublished products of a person's life or an organization's own records, such as diaries, photos, letters, manuscripts, or minutes taken by an organization's secretary. Published Materials are books, newspapers, souvenir booklets, jubilee albums, etc. Please provide information about Archival and Published items separately in the spaces below, on the back of this sheet or on attached pages.

Archival Materials:
How many boxes of unpublished and/or manuscript material do you have, and what size of boxes are they in? For instance, "3 photocopy paper boxes" or "a 3-drawer, legal-size filing cabinet".

Please describe the unpublished and/or manuscript items that you wish to donate, who created them (and where), and how they came into your possession.

Are you authorized to give IHRC intellectual rights over these items upon donation? Circle one: Yes No

Published Materials:
Please estimate the number of books, newspapers, or other print that you would like to donate. What are the topics of these books? Did you write any of them yourself?

Can you provide a list for IHRC staff to review? Circle one: Yes No

Please e-mail this information to or mail to Haven Hawley, IHRC Program Director, 311 Elmer L. Andersen Library, 222 - 21st Ave. St., Minneapolis, MN 55455.

This survey also is available in electronic form upon request.