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FAQs

Donor Guide for the Archives

A DONOR'S GUIDE TO THE PRESERVATION OF PERSONAL AND FAMILY PAPERS
AND THE RECORDS OF ORGANIZATIONS

The history of the Ark-La-Tex area is your history. It is the history of your family, your business, your organization. Ordinary events as well as great achievements contribute to who we are as a society and as individuals. LSUS Archives and Special Collections is dedicated to preserving the historical record of people and events, great and small, past and present, to ensure that it will be available for research use. The staff at LSUS Archives welcomes inquiries and will be glad to visit with prospective donors to advise them about the preservation of their records.

What to Preserve
Written records of individuals generally fall into three categories: personal papers, family papers, and records of organizations. Personal papers include correspondence, diaries, legal and financial documents, and other written materials as well as photographs and memorabilia created by persons in the course of their daily lives and activities. Family papers include the same types of material generated by a number of persons who are related by blood or marriage. Such papers often span generations. Personal and family papers shed light on the life of ordinary citizens through descriptions of family, farm, and urban life. They reveal social customs, diet, weather, and countless other facets of human existence. The more detailed information a collection of papers can provide, the more valuable the collection to researchers.

The records of organizations usually include correspondence, reports, minutes, financial and legal papers, photographs, printed materials, and other documentation produced by a group or corporate activity such as a business, labor union, charitable association, church, professional organization, political party, and so on. Organizational records are useful not only for the study of the history of the organization itself but also for understanding its locale, personnel, products, and times. LSUS Archives and Special Collections is pleased to receive the inactive records of active organizations as well as the archives of now-defunct organizations.

Collections of papers and records created in the last hundred years or so frequently contain visual material such as photographs, prints, postcards, drawings, and sketches. Among the papers of architects, artists, and photographers, such visual images are essential for research. Visual images are equally important for their frequent depictions of everyday life. Today, the variety of possible media for recording the history of our own time is broader than ever, and LSUS collects all types.

Gifts and Access
LSUS prefers to receive personal and family papers and the records of organizations as gifts. Organizations that must retain title to their records may wish to make arrangements that will allow their members to have access to the inactive records while the LSUS Archives assumes the responsibility of caring for and providing reference service for them. However, LSUS cannot provide expensive preservation, description, and reference services for papers and records that it does not own without financial support from the owner.

The research value of papers and records may be diminished if material is removed prior to donation, or if the original order is disturbed. Sensitive material should be discussed with the archivist during the negotiation of the gift. While LSUS wishes to make all papers and records freely accessible to researchers, the Archives may agree to close a part or all of a collection for a defined period to protect the privacy of the donor or others.

Quotation
Researchers frequently wish to publish quotes from materials they examine. Therefore, LSUS asks that donors include copyright in their gifts of papers and records to spare the researcher the burden of contacting numerous copyright holders for permission to quote, and to relieve these persons of the need to answer such requests. Donors should discuss copyright with the archivist before making a donation.

Financial Aspects
It may be possible for some donors of papers and records to claim tax deductions for the value of their gifts. The value of gifts of personal papers donated by their creators is not tax deductible, although the value of such gifts by their heirs or estates may be allowed. Donors who wish to use the value of papers as a tax deduction should discuss this with their tax advisor and the archivist when negotiating the gift. LSUS Archives staff is not able to make appraisals. The archivist may be able to provide the names of professional appraisers or make other arrangements.

Preparing papers and records for use by researchers is the most expensive operation in a manuscripts repository. Donors who are able to assist with this expense by making grants toward the processing costs of their donations of papers and records are encouraged to do so. Only on rare occasions, however, are such grants a prerequisite for the acceptance of a collection. Monetary gifts and memorial contributions to the Archives Development Fund are also encouraged. The LSUS Archives Development Fund is used for the purchase of important collections and for developing a quality research facility.