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Berea College Special Collections & Archives: About Us

Introduction

It is the primary purpose of the Special Collections & Archives to collect and make accessible to researchers materials relating to the history of the College, the Southern Appalachian region, and the Berea community.  A secondary purpose of the department is to collect and preserve other selected historical materials that complement the department’s primary collecting focus and enhance the College’s liberal arts education. With these purposes in mind, the four published materials collections and three archival divisions listed below have been created.

 Published Materials Collections

 

  •  Most items in the Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection are purchased, while the Berea Collection  Abraham Lincoln Collection, and the Curio Collection grow primarily through gifts. The department reserves the right to refuse unsolicited gifts.

Archival Collections

  • The archives collects, preserves, organizes, describes, and makes accessible to researchers records, documents, manuscripts, papers, photographs, and non-commercial sound and visual recordings, including oral histories.  Most archival materials and collections are acquired by transfer (in the case of official institutional records) or by gift. Occasionally, however, archival materials are purchased.
  • An outside appraiser must make any appraisal of the monetary value of gifts to the department.  A Deed of Gift agreement shall be the legal instrument governing the donation and transfer of ownership of materials to Special Collections & Archives. Gift items that do not relate to the purpose of the archives may be returned to the donor, deposited or distributed elsewhere within the College, or otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Deed of Gift, or, in the absence of a deed, at the discretion of the Head of Special Collections & Archives.

Mission Statement

It is the primary purpose of the Special Collections & Archives to collect and make accessible to researchers materials relating to the history of Berea College, the Southern Appalachian region, and the Berea community.  A secondary purpose of the department is to collect and preserve other selected historical materials that complement the department’s primary collecting focus and enhance the College’s liberal arts education. With these purposes in mind, the collections listed below have been created:

Published Materials collections

Most items in the Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection are purchased, while the Berea Collection Abraham Lincoln Collection, and the Curio Collection grow primarily through gifts. The department reserves the right to refuse unsolicited gifts. 

Weather-Hammond Mountain Collection

The library acquires both newly published and out-of-print works for inclusion in the Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection. 

This is a Comprehensive Level collection, defined as follows by the Library of Congress:

A collection which, so far as is reasonably possible, includes all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, and other forms), in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field.  This level of collecting intensity is one that maintains a "special collection."   The aim, if not achievement, is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research.

Selected items relating to the Northern and Central Appalachian regions and the Ozark Mountain region are acquired for comparative purposes.   Titles judged to have particular interest or heavy use are purchased for the circulating collection as well.  

Commercial audio and visual recordings are selectively purchased for this collection.

Berea Collection

The library acquires books, pamphlets, and other printed sources dealing with Berea College and the city of Berea for inclusion in the Berea Collection.   These works include college histories and biographies, works of local history, and books written or edited by Berea College faculty, staff, and alumni.   Studies including or mentioning the College or the community and their associated personalities are also acquired.

Items that meet the collection criteria for both the Berea Collection and the Mountain collection will be included in the Mountain collection only.  For example, a book written by a Berea College faculty member about the Southern Appalachian region will be added to the Mountain collection.

Abraham Lincoln Collection

Two large gifts from John A. Shedd and Henry Schwarzchild make up the core of the Abraham Lincoln Collection.   The library selectively purchases recent and out-of-print scholarly works on Abraham Lincoln for this collection.   Generally, second copies of recent scholarship are also purchased for the circulating collection.

Curio Collection

The strengths of the Curio Collection include important examples of fifteenth century incunabula, early printed works, centuries-old Bibles, and first editions of American and British literature.   Other important subject areas include nineteenth century anti-slavery literature, African American history, ballad books, and hymnals.   Most acquisitions come from within Hutchins Library’s existing collections or by occasional gifts and purchases.   In keeping with Berea’s abolitionist heritage, the library selectively purchases significant out-of-print works on abolitionism, anti-slavery, and slavery, particularly items from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Archival Collections

The archives collects, preserves, organizes, describes, and makes accessible to researchers records, documents, manuscripts, papers, photographs, and non-commercial sound and visual recordings, including oral histories.  Most archival materials and collections are acquired by transfer (in the case of official institutional records) or by gift. Occasionally, however, archival materials are purchased.

An outside appraiser must make any appraisal of the monetary value of gifts to the department.  A Deed of Gift agreement shall be the legal instrument governing the donation and transfer of ownership of materials to Special Collections & Archives. Gift items that do not relate to the purpose of the archives may be returned to the donor, deposited or distributed elsewhere within the College, or otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Deed of Gift, or, in the absence of a deed, at the discretion of the Head of Special Collections & Archives.

Collecting areas include:

  • Significant non-current institutional records that document the history and administration of Berea College, and associated non-official materials that relate to the history and activities of Berea College departments, organizations, students, faculty, and staff.   Transfer of records is governed by the policy approved by the Administrative Committee in May 2009.
  • Materials relating to the unique history of the college including its pioneering dedication to interracial education and social justice.
  • Materials relating to local history - the Berea Community and southern Madison County - and selected materials of general historical interest and significance.   
  • Materials documenting the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region.   

Evaluating materials for possible acquisition involves consideration of a variety of factors:

  • types of material,
  • size and scope of the materials,
  • subject area,
  • compatibility with other collections in the archives, and
  • resources necessary to assume responsibility for the materials.

Donations

If you would like to discuss potential donations to Berea College Special Collections and Archives, please contact Rachel Vagts, Head of Special Collections & Archives.