Historical Collections

Historical Collections

Collection Development Policy


Collection development decisions are on hold while the curator is on maternity leave.

Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose

The Historical Collections and Services department serves as the repository of special collections materials in the University of Virginia’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. We support a wide range of users including students, graduate students, UVA Health employees, community members, and outside scholars whose work relies on special collections that document the history of the health sciences and the history of UVA Health.

Programs Supported and User Community

Types of Programs Supported

Special collections in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library support the following programs:

  • Scholarly research about the history of UVA Health and the history of its students, faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Scholarly research about the history of the health sciences in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Education programs in the history of the health sciences at the University of Virginia
  • Exhibits and other outreach initiatives that promote awareness of the history of the health sciences

User Community

The Historical Collections and Services department serves the following user groups:

  • Primary: Students, staff, faculty, and alumni of UVA Health
  • Secondary: Students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the rest of the University of Virginia
  • Tertiary: Scholars, researchers, and community members outside of the University of Virginia interested in the history of UVA Health and the history of the health sciences

Types of Materials and Scope of Content

Types of Materials and Scope of Content

Historical Collections and Services is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the history of the health sciences at the University of Virginia and around the world. We collect any format of information resource that we can sustainably steward including books, journals, manuscripts, archives, video, digital files, digital media, audio recordings, artifacts, photographs, and ephemera.

Our collecting priorities focus on the following areas:

  • Primary: Materials documenting the history of UVA Health and its students, faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Secondary: Materials documenting the history of the health sciences in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Tertiary: Materials documenting the broader history of the health sciences that support the educational and research missions of the University of Virginia

Reparative Collecting Model

Reparative Collecting Model

We are committed to building a more inclusive archive and seek acquisitions that will diversify the voices currently represented in our collections. The longer history of UVA Health has been dominated by white male voices. As such, our archive is reflective of these histories and legacies. A reparative collecting model prioritizes underrepresented voices and communities to fill gaps in the archive and tell a more holistic history of our institution.

Potential Acquisitions

Assessing Potential Acquisitions

Historical Collections and Services has the capacity to acquire and steward a very small percentage of the materials offered to us. We recognize that individuals with a connection to the institution and/or who have a family member with a connection may wish to place their papers or other materials with our archive. Due to limited resources, we must be highly selective and thoughtful in what we accept. This process entails considering many factors such as condition, the scope of our collections, applicable restrictions, physical storage, the expertise of our staff, potential research use, and the cost of preservation and processing. If we decline a donation, that does not mean the collection or item lacks historical value. In these cases, we may be able to refer you to another repository.

With rare exception, Historical Collections and Services no longer accepts:

  • Film motion pictures
  • Slides
  • Awards, plaques, and trophies
  • Large portraiture
  • Rare book donations exceeding 50 volumes
  • Incomplete volumes
  • Modern medical textbooks and encyclopedias
  • Bibles
  • Reprints, photocopies, and newspapers or newspaper clippings
  • Reproductions of materials held by other repositories
  • Doctors' bags
  • Doctors’ and nurses’ uniforms
  • Pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical vials

In addition, we must be very intentional in our acquisition of medical artifacts since the cost of cataloging, storing, and preserving these objects is significant. We are equally deliberate with rare book donations. Before accepting rare books, we assess our current collections, long-term costs, preservation, and storage.

Under no circumstances will we accept donations of human remains including but not limited to medical specimens, histological slides, tissue blocks, and anatomical models.

Other Considerations

Physical Condition of Acquisitions

Whenever possible, Historical Collections and Services will collect materials in the best possible physical condition because the department has limited resources for preservation and conservation. The department must decide on a case-by-case basis when the value and scarcity of an item justifies potential preservation and conservation costs. Books and other materials with mold can present health hazards to our staff and patrons. We will decline donations where the risks and/or costs outweigh the potential research value of the materials.


When the curator assesses materials for accession, they will also do a review for potential restrictions. Depending on the nature of the materials and the information contained therein, these matters may have to be advanced to Records Management and/or UVA Health Compliance for further evaluation. While we strive to make our collections as accessible as possible, we must comply with all applicable federal and state laws such as HIPAA. Collections that contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Personal Health Information (PHI) will have to undergo a redaction process and/or be partially or fully restricted for a time.

Duplicate Copies

Historical Collections and Services generally does not accept duplicate copies of items already held in its repository due to limitations on our storage space. Exceptions may be made in instances where an additional copy has unique features such as marginalia or is in much better physical condition than the first copy. Also, an exception may be made to acquire additional copies of UVA Health publications and ephemera according to the judgment of the curator.

Relationships with Other Repositories

Historical Collections and Services builds relationships with other special collections repositories at the University of Virginia to avoid duplication in our holdings as well as direct competition with one another for collections and resources. The department also builds relationships with repositories outside of the University to minimize duplication and competition in collection development.


We do not accept loans of materials, nor do we temporarily house items. No exceptions will be made to this policy, even if the intent it to donate said materials to the repository at some point in the future.

Archival Donation Process

Archival Donation Process

Step 1: Contact the curator with information regarding your prospective donation. Please be as detailed as possible and provide images of the materials when possible. The curator will make their initial assessment based on this information. If further details are necessary, the curator will set up a phone call with the donor. Please do not mail any materials to the library without securing curator approval; these materials will be returned to the donor.

Step 2: If the curator determines the materials potentially fit within our collecting priorities and trajectories, they will ask the donor to either drop off (preferable) or mail the materials to the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library for further assessment. Historical Collections and Services does not accept liability for any materials damaged or lost in transit. In exceptional circumstances, the curator will make a local site visit to assess the materials. Our staff will not clean out homes, storage facilities, faculty offices, organizational offices, etc.

Step 3: The curator will determine whether to take all, some, or none of the prospective donation based on the criteria outlined in our collection development policy. Any materials not accessioned by the archive will be returned to the donor.

Step 4: A formal deed of gift (DOG) process is mandatory for all material donations accepted by Historical Collections and Services. A DOG transfers legal title in the materials to the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. Thus, a donor must hold the legal title to the materials to transfer ownership. If the curator determines the donation fits within the department’s collecting priorities and scope, they will draw up a DOG, ask the donor to review and sign, share the DOG with the designated Library official, and send the DOG to University Advancement for final review and signature.

Step 5: The curator will email a copy of the fully executed DOG to the donor for their records. Due to our backlog, we are unable to provide an estimated timeline of when a donation will be processed and made available to researchers.

Historical Collections and Services staff cannot perform appraisals. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library maintains a list of appraisers here. If a donor desires an appraisal for their prospective donation, they must arrange for and cover the costs of the appraisal.

Financial Donation Process

Financial Donation Process

Financial donations of any amount to Historical Collections and Services help to support our overall mission. If a donor wishes to provide a financial donation with a material donation to our archive, those funds will help with costs of processing and preservation. These gifts are tax-deductible. Please advise the curator if you intend to make a monetary contribution with your material donation and they will advise as to next steps.

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Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1350 Jefferson Park Avenue, 22903
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville, VA 22908 (Directions)

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