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Library and Archive Policies


This section contains the acquisition policy for the Archives and Special Collections. This policy addresses how and what materials are acquired by the Archives and Special Collections. 


The Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections serve a vital role in Unitarian Universalism by safekeeping materials of historical and cultural significance to liberal religion, Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism. The Archives and Special Collections acquire and provide access to information resources that document the living history, theology, culture, and people of Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism specifically and the diverse faith traditions with which we are in relationship more broadly.

Engaged Collecting

Archiving is justice making work. Working with our Special Collections Steering Committees, archive staff actively seek out material that documents individuals, communities, and experiences historically underserved by traditional archives.  

In some instances, as part of comprehensively collecting Unitarian, Universalist, Unitarian Universalist material, the Archive will acquire collection that documents Unitarian Universalism but does not reflect its stated values. Both the library and Meadville Lombard’s mission statements value “harnessing accountability to repair historical wrongs and present injustice.” To do this, historical wrongs and current injustices must be documented.


The Archives and Special Collections acquires archival material in all formats, including physical and born digital resources. For historical analog media, such as film, cassettes, and VCR tapes, we will acquire material in those formats, but we cannot guarantee those will be accessible to researchers. 


To best serve scholars and the larger Unitarian Universalist community, all potential acquisitions material undergoes rigorous inspection. All materials acquired by the Meadville Lombard Archives must be generated by individuals and organizations historically and culturally important to liberal religion, Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism. 

Some types of materials that the Meadville Lombard Archives seek to acquire are:

  • Records and personal papers of individuals
  • Historically and culturally significant manuscripts
  • Historically and culturally significant artifacts
  • Records of organizations
  • Accumulation of historical material pertaining to a single event, theme, or movement

Other Criteria

Beyond historical and cultural importance, when inspecting a collection we also consider the condition of the materials and expenses related to shipping and storing of the materials. After we have received a collection, we will remove materials lacking in historical and cultural significance within the collection so that we can maximize the collection's accessibility and utility to researchers.

Ownership and Copyright

Because the goal of the Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collection is to make history accessible, we will only acquire materials if we are given sole ownership. While we prefer to be granted copyright for material contained with the collection in addition to physical ownership, donors can choose retain copyright while giving Meadville Lombard the right to reproduce and distribute the donated archive materials for noncommercial use. This includes, but is not limited to, digitizing materials and making the materials publicly available in an online repository.

The mechanism by which Meadville Lombard will receive ownership for the collection and copyright or permission reproduce and distribute is through a signed deed of gift.  

Archive Restrictions

While we prefer to receive materials without access restrictions, we will allow materials to have reasonable access restrictions if required by the donor.

Selection Proccess

Archive collections can be acquired in a variety of ways. 

  • Holders of archival materials can contact the archives staff to inquire if their collection is within our collecting scope.
  • Individuals can contact archives staff and request archives staff to reach out to specific suggested individuals or organizations about possible collections. 
  • Archives staff will proactively reach out to individuals or organizations about possible archival collections in their possession. 
  • Special Collection Steering Committee members will make contact with individuals and organizations about possible donation of archive collections. 
  • The Archives and Special Collections has ongoing agreements with congregations and organizations to acquire material as it is generated. 

All archive acquisitions decisions are made by the Director of the Library and Archives in consultation with appropriate stakeholders. 

Meadville Lombard Wiggin Library
180 N. Wabash Ave.
Suite 625 
Chicago, IL 60601

Library and Archives Phone: 312-546-6488        Library Email:        Archives Email: