Institutional Archives

What is an institutional archive?

An institutional archive is an archive associated with a larger institution (a university or college, a corporation, a government agency, etc) that tells the story of that institution (its founding, past publications and programs, etc). For our purposes, we are including the historical archives of the institution as well (diaries, letters, etc.)

What movement materials would an institutional archive be interested in?

That depends! You’ll need to do some research and see what collections the institution houses and if they would be interested in adding to them. Check the website of the institution you think may be interested in your movement materials to see if they are collecting similar items, or reach out to a librarian, curator, or digital archivist at the institution and ask if your materials would be a good fit.

If you’re interested in donating movement materials to an institutional archive, consider…

Access: Are there only certain pieces of your movement materials that you would like displayed to the public? What are the archive’s policies regarding publication and duplication?

Attribution: Is it important that a particular individual be credited with creating your movement materials? Or, if they were created collectively, should the group be credited? Are there any concerns about copyright ownership?

Description: How much input do you want to have in the description/contextualization of your movement materials?

Additional resources for donating to an institutional archive

Example of an archive’s collecting areas at North Carolina State University

Example of items that an institutional archive may be looking for, from the Society of American Archivists

For more examples of institutional archives that highlight activism, please see our additional resources