General Policy for Use
The objects housed in the Archives and Special Collections are non-circulating materials. Some of them are in fragile condition and irreplaceable; hence, certain precautions are necessary:
- No food or drinks allowed in the Archives.
- Only pencils may be used in the Archives to take notes, and there will be no writing on archival materials.
- Gloves may be required for handling of photographs, negatives, or architectural drawings.
- No materials are to be taken from the Archives without the permission of the archivist.
- Archives patrons may be required to leave an ID card with the Archives staff while using materials from the collection.
- The archivist reserves the right to inspect all research material and all personal articles before a patron leaves the area.
Appointments are recommended due to limited public hours and may be made by calling 713-221-8932.
The principal goal of the University of Houston-Downtown Archives and Special Collections is to collect, preserve, describe, exhibit, and make available to students, faculty, staff, and qualified researchers materials both physical and digital, which record the operation of the University and the activities of faculty, students, alumni, and administrative staff who have helped to shape the development of the University.
Scope of Materials
The following are materials collected by the University of Houston-Downtown Archives and Special Collections. They may be in either analog or digital format, both born-digital and digitized, published or in manuscript form:
- Correspondence, minutes, committee files, printed material, scrapbooks, financial records and associated papers, photographs, films, videotapes, and sound recordings.
- Materials in any format concerning University of Houston-Downtown affairs, including essential records generated or received by the various administrative and academic offices of the University in the conduct of official business.
- Materials in any format related to faculty, student, and alumni organizations.
- Personal and professional papers, materials, and published works of selected faculty, alumni, and staff members, including materials that document a specific aspect or era in the University’s history or are part of the individual’s professional work.
- Any publications created by or for University of Houston-Downtown, including yearbooks, student and departmental newspapers, catalogs, annual reports, and various literary and humorous magazines.
- Published books on the history of Houston, Texas, or the University of Houston-Downtown. Photocopies of publications will not be accepted.
The University of Houston-Downtown Archives and Special Collections are happy to accept donations that fall within the scope of its collection policy. Any collection accepted commits us to the task of organizing and preserving it, which involves hand labor and costs for archival supplies. Due to limited staffing, budget and space, all donations or gifts are subject to review by the archivist and the administration of the W.I. Dykes Library and may be declined. Partial collections are discouraged, but may be reviewed at the discretion of the Archives. The University of Houston-Downtown Archives reserves the right to decline any collection for the following reasons:
- Inability of the Archives to provide suitable space, staffing, supplies, and equipment. While the lack of these does not constitute a compelling reason for refusing archives and manuscripts, deficiency in one or more may constitute grounds for a temporary delay in their acquisition. During periods of severe deficiency in any of these areas, the Archives will give priority to new accessions of internal records whenever possible.
- Inability of the Archives to provide sufficient support to preserve and provide access to archival records.
- The collection contains materials that do not fit within the scope of the University of Houston-Downtown Archives.
- Photocopies of materials donated to another repository will not be accepted as donations.
- Materials irreparably damaged or infested by insects or mold will not be accepted.
- Materials in which the donor’s ownership is in question or disputed will not be accepted.
- Duplicate materials will not be accepted due to lack of space.
- The Archives will not accept permanent loans of materials and will not assume liability for materials not owned by University of Houston-Downtown.
Once a donation is accepted, a deed of gift must be signed by the donor specifying the materials to be donated. This deed of gift will be negotiated between the donor and University of Houston-Downtown. Special conditions may be specified by the donor, but the Archives may refuse any donation in which it deems the conditions of use overly restrictive. At the time of donation, arrangements regarding digitization, publication, and access can be discussed and determined.
Donors reserve the right to make arrangements to examine the material they have donated and can be given a copy of any inventories, finding aids, or other research materials produced by the Archives about the donated material.
University of Houston-Downtown is a nonprofit organization and has been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. Donations may qualify as tax-deductible. This, however, does not permit the archivist to appraise gifts. Under IRS regulations, no library, archive, or museum can perform an appraisal. A list of potential appraisers will be provided upon request.
There are many factors to consider when digitizing born-analog materials. These factors are best understood by walking through a set of questions.
- Should they be digitized? Is the collection important enough, is there enough audience demand, and can sufficient value be added through digitization to make it worth the cost and effort?
- May they be digitized? Does the institution have the intellectual property rights to permit legal creation and dissemination of a digital version?
- Can they be digitized? Will digitization achieve the goals of the project, given the physical nature of the materials and their organization, arrangement, and description? Does the institution have the technical infrastructure and expertise to create digital files and make them available to users now and in the future?
Using these questions as a threshold, the Archive is committed to digitizing holdings which have particular historical and nostalgic value to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of University of Houston-Downtown. This includes photographs and audiovisual materials, course catalogs, student and alumni publications, and any documentation that fulfills the requirements laid out in the above questions.