University Archives Collection Development

I. Collection Focus

The University Archives collects and documents the history and services of USM, as set forth (in part) by state law. This includes, but is not limited to, records and publications of USM such as: copies of all printed materials relating to the history, development and character of USM; all publications of departments, schools, and agencies of USM; records of organizational activities, campus offices, and campus branches. State-approved Records Retention Schedules establish retention periods and specify which records have historical value (i.e., indicating they will be accepted into the University Archives) in accordance with the UNIVERSITY RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION POLICY. Records from the founding of the University of Southern Mississippi as Mississippi Normal College in 1910 to the present are collected.

a. Definition of University Records

A university record is any information regardless of physical form or characteristics, which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, or other activities of the university and its faculty, staff, and students.  Any record produced or received by any agency or employee of the university in the transaction of university business becomes university property. See the definitions also provided in the UNIVERSITY RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION POLICY.

b. Categories of Record Creators

  • University of Southern Mississippi administrative units, offices and academic departments: The Archives broadly collects inactive records in this area, including records produced or received by the Board of Trustees, University President, Provost, Vice Presidents, College Deans and Directors, Academic Departments and Programs, University Centers, and other administrative and institutional offices.
  • USM-affiliated organizations: The Archives broadly collects inactive records in this area, including records produced by faculty bodies, student organizations, alumni groups and USM support organizations.


II. Selection Process for Collecting University Archives Records

Only a small percentage of the documentation generated by the University has long-term archival value and is eligible for transfer to the Archives.  The transfer of university records is managed through Retention Schedules approved in accordance with the UNIVERSITY RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION POLICY.  Questions regarding the appraisal and disposition of records not listed in the Retention Schedule should be addressed to the Curator.

a. Types of Records Ordinarily Collected

  • Administrative and departmental records: Includes records documenting the day-to-day activities of the University, but most documents can be grouped into the following categories:
  • Governance and policy documents:  Constitutions and by-laws, minutes and proceedings, policies and procedures, reports;
  • Financial records: Annual budget and audit reports;
  • Records of the Registrar: Includes timetables and class schedules, enrollment reports, graduation rosters, and other reports issued on a regular basis;
  • Office or administrative files: Correspondence and memoranda (incoming and outgoing) and subject files concerning projects, activities and functions;
  • Biographical information: On USM administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni;
  • Architectural drawings:  Includes various architectural renderings, including site plans and drawings of mechanical, structural and electrical systems;
  • Academic departmental records: Includes minutes, reports, correspondence, and syllabi;
  • University publications: Includes newsletters, catalogs, yearbooks, student newspapers, University directories, faculty/staff rosters, journals, brochures, monographs, programs, posters, and announcements issued by all University offices, schools, and departments, as well by faculty, student and alumni organizations.
  • Digital files or electronic records:  Machine-readable data files generated for conducting University business will be considered for permanent retention. 
  • Security copies of microfilm reels containing vital records.
  • Records of student organizations: Includes constitutions and by-laws, minutes and proceedings, policies and procedures, reports.
  • Photographic material: Includes prints, negatives, and slides. Subjects prominently featured include:

People:  Photos of individual faculty, staff, students, and alumni;

Buildings and campus scenes:  Photos of individual buildings and groups of buildings; as well as aerial shots; and

Events and groups:  Photos of groups of faculty, staff, students, and alumni participating in various activities including sports, commencement, departments, and organizations.

  • Audio, videotapes and films: Includes documentation of University events (particularly athletic activities) and the master audio files of The Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage.
  • Artifacts: Includes rare and unique objects pertaining to the University of Southern Mississippi. The Archives strongly prefers collection artifacts that contain well-documented provenance and are in fair and original condition. The Department will limit collecting to items that can be reasonably preserved, cared for, stored, and made accessible for research and exhibit purposes.
  • Theses and Dissertations: Includes doctoral dissertations and theses generated by students in the Honors College.

b. Types of Records Ordinarily Excluded

  • Routine letters of transmittal and acknowledgement
  • Correspondence that is not personally addressed from other departments or schools (on or off campus)
  • Duplicated material and mass generated commercial documents, such as "junk mail".

c. General Records Retention Schedule

USM GENERAL RECORDS RETENTION SCHEDULES cover records and copies of records common to many offices and departments. This version reflects items approved by the State Records Committee as of October 2014, and there will be updates whenever applicable items are approved in the future (ref. USM Policy ACAF-LIB-013, Part 3.5: "The University Libraries may directly issue General Schedules regarding frequent, normal disposal of certain routine internal records and copies of records common to many University offices and departments."). Contact the Curator about Schedules for other records specific to offices and departments.

d. Chronological Period Documented

The University Archives collects records primarily from the founding of the University of Southern Mississippi as Mississippi Normal College in 1910 to the present.


III. Loans

University Archives does not accept for accessioning items and collections on "deposit," on long-term, indefinite or permanent "loan," or in any other manner whereby USM is not the owner of the items, except in a unique instance when the Curator, in consultation with the Dean of University Libraries, approves such an arrangement for a uniquely valuable item or collection that would further the USM mission.


IV. Restricted Collections

The originating office may place some restrictions on access to records but the University Archives will not accept materials that are closed to the public in perpetuity.


V. Removal of Materials from the Collection (Deaccessioning)

Duplicates and materials that do not reflect the University Archives' collecting areas or do not possess sufficient archival value may be deaccessioned, subject to the documented terms of acquisition, University policies, and state and federal laws.