Collection Development Policy

General Purpose

The Duke University Medical Center Archives (DUMCA) is the repository for the archival records generated by or about the Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) [e.g. the Duke University Health System (DUHS), the Duke University School of Medicine (SOM), the Duke University School of Nursing (SON)] and affiliated professionals. The materials collected support DUMCA’s essential functions: Retaining and preserving administrative records, supporting primary academic mission through support to Duke faculty and students in scholarly research, and providing access to records for external researchers interested in Duke Medicine’s contributions to the field. DUMCA collects institutional records, which consists of official the DUMC and affiliated professionals records including, but not limited to, the analog and digital records of administrative offices; academic departments; faculty, administrative and student committees; faculty and student clubs; college and student publications; oral history interviews; audiovisual materials; photographic materials (photographs, negatives, slides, etc…); memorabilia, artifacts, and other ephemeral materials. The DUMCA also collects manuscript papers, which consists of the personal papers of Duke faculty and affiliates. The manuscript materials complement the official holdings of institutional records housed at DUMCA, and are important for capturing Duke’s history, as well as documenting advances in medicine and health care.

The archival records collected by the DUMCA have permanent administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical value, which are preserved as an asset for the Duke community and other researchers. The DUMCA supports the teaching and research activities of administrators, faculty, and students on all levels. Materials are made available for student assignments, teaching, faculty and staff research needs, administration, and development. Use of the collections is broadly based; there is no one single constituency that is supported by the materials. Materials are used by faculty, staff, and students in the arts and sciences; researchers interested in the history and development of medical education and hospital development; and Duke Health administrators in the conduct of official business.

Duke University Medical Center Institutional Records

The charge to identify, collect, arrange, describe, make available, and preserve records of historical value is the responsibility of the Medical Center Archivist. The purpose of collecting such records is to provide documentation of the development and growth of the DUMC and affiliated professionals in several specific areas. These areas are:

  • primary functions of teaching and research
  • development of health care education
  • leadership in the community at large
  • activities of the student body and alumni
  • development of the physical plant and grounds.

Priority is given to those records that reflect the activities of the DUMC and affiliated officers and committees that formulate or approve official policy, as well as faculty and administrative involvement in these activities.

Duke University Medical Center Archives Manuscript Collections

Because it is not possible to collect the papers of all faculty, the Medical Center Archivist must determine which papers will be of value to students and scholars in the future. Papers will be included of those faculty who have made a significant impact upon or contribution to Duke University, Durham, or society at large. The defining factor for inclusion of faculty, administrator, and staff papers will be the significance of impact upon, or contribution to, the practice or science of medicine, medical research, and changing the way society, or a portion of society, thinks, believes, acts, or operates. It is thus the goal of the DUMCA to identify, collect, and preserve those materials which fall within this definition. At the same time, is not the policy of the DUMCA to acquire by purchase the papers of living faculty and alumni of Duke Health.

Acquisitions Priorities

Non-current records of administrative, academic, and student organizations: Chancellor, Vice-Chancellors, Deans, Vice-Deans, Faculty Governance, Academic Departments, Student Organizations, Administrative Offices, and Research Centers. For additional information, refer to the DUMCA’s Recommended Retention and Disposition Guidelines.

The DUMCA also seeks Duke faculty papers that help capture Duke’s history, as well as reflecting advances in medicine and health care. Duke alumni papers are generally treated as external collections and not actively collected. External non-Duke collections are not to be actively sought, but if approached the DUMCA should review with Vice Dean for Education and Dean of SOM whether the collection should be accepted.

Types of Materials Collected

Official records and office files, policy statements and decisions, accreditation reports and supporting documentation, annual budget and audit reports, agenda and minutes of meetings, annual reports, committee and task force reports, subject files concerning projects, statistical summaries, press releases, correspondence and memoranda, and papers created in the process of the DUMC, and affiliated professionals carrying out their missions. Additional types of materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Official Publications: Catalogs, student newspapers, literary magazines, yearbooks, alumni magazines, campus maps, newsletters, brochures, programs of conferences and events sponsored by the DUMC and affiliated professionals, and directories of faculty/staff rosters.
  • Campus Buildings: Blueprints, building models, and plans not routinely kept by the Facility Design and Construction Office.
  • Alumni Memoirs: Alumni collections include club memorabilia, diaries, photographs, reunion books, and scrapbooks.
  • Audiovisual Materials: Photographs, films, and audio and video recordings relating to the campus, interviews with the DUMC, affiliated professionals, personnel, alumni, and students.
  • Oral History Interviews: The defining factor for conducting oral history interviews with faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni will be the significance of impact upon, or contribution to, changing the way society, or a portion of society, thinks, believes, acts or operates. Oral history interviews will be conducted in order to support existing archival and manuscript collections on file in the DUMCA.
  • Equipment and Artifacts: The Archives collects a small selection of equipment and tools developed by Duke. Large or heavy pieces of equipment are not retained unless they are of unusual importance to Duke or the medical field. Uniforms, caps, and related clothing as it relates to Duke’s early history and the training of students are accepted.

Subject Areas Collected

While the collection is not strictly restricted by subject, archival records collected by the DUMCA will usually concern the following broad subject matter:

  • The practice and science of medicine
  • Biomedical research
  • Healthcare delivery, economics, and administration
  • Bioethics, pastoral care, and other related disciplines
  • Health professions education
  • Operations and history of Duke Health, its schools, programs, and affiliated partners as appropriate

Languages of Materials Collected

English is the primary language of the collection. However, language is not a criterion for inclusion or exclusion.

Geographical Areas Collected

There are no geographical boundaries. However, the vast majority of the collection is from within North Carolina, focused on Durham and the Research Triangle.

Format of Materials Collected

Any type of material stated above may be in physical or digital formats. Physical formats may include paper, artwork, photographic materials, audiovisual materials, textiles, and artifacts. Like physical materials, digital materials may come in a wide variety of formats. The DUMCA accepts most types of digital media, though each case comes with its own unique considerations, which should be assessed by the Medical Center Archivist. These considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Storage devices: Hard drives and other types of removable media, including USB flash drives, optical discs (CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs), Zip disks, and Floppy disks. Magnetic tape and memory cards may be accepted, although the DUMCA’s ability to read these materials and ingest them into the content management system may be limited. Typically, once the digital files are ingested into the DUMCA’s content management system, the original carriers or storage devices are retained, although each case must be assessed individually.
  • File content types: Most types of digital files are accepted, including word processing files, spreadsheets, presentations, images, audio recordings, and video recordings. The DUMCA does not discriminate against formats or time period, though appraisal decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Web content: Web archiving efforts began in 2018 to capture websites and born-digital records developed and maintained by the DUMC and affiliated professionals departments and organizations.

The capacity to collect digital formats may change over time as digital technologies rapidly evolve and the DUMCA’s resources and technical expertise that informs the ability to capture, store, and preserve digital materials is also evolving and maturing. Digital material at risk of degradation or websites at risk of disappearing are a priority in our selection.

What We Don’t Collect

  • Materials better suited to other repositories
  • Short-term or active records
  • Materials duplicative of our current holdings
  • Medical records

Other Resources Available

The History of Medicine Collections at Duke University’s David. M. Rubenstein Library Rare Book & Manuscript Library is comprised of 20,000 rare books and journals, as well as manuscripts, photographs, illustrations, medical instruments, medals, and a variety of medical artifacts. For more information about this collection, please visit the History of Medicine website. The Rubenstein Library at Duke University preserves rare and historical materials, which include monographs, serials, photographs and illustrations, medical advertisements, and various realia. While the library's holdings are developed in relation to instructional and research interests in the University, they are available for use by visiting scholars and the general public as well as Duke faculty and students.

Updated November, 2020