LaBudde Special Collections (LSC) at the Miller Nichols Library of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is an internationally recognized repository comprised of a rare book collection and manuscript collections. We serve the mission of the UMKC University Libraries to “promote discovery, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge and creative work” by supporting research in to the history of the Kansas City region and beyond, and by collecting, preserving, and promoting access to our library and archival materials. LSC also supports the larger vision of the Library through collecting to support and enhance the Library’s efforts in “fostering equity in critical inquiry, providing access to information of enduring value”, and engaging with the community at large.
The purpose of this policy is to outline the scope and rationale behind collecting at LaBudde Special Collections in order to:
- assist in furthering our mission and upholding the professional standards of the library and archival community
- aid LSC and other library faculty and staff in selection of materials in a way that is planned, realistic, cohesive, and tied to the institution’s resources and priorities
- inform the public of our selection priorities, and encourage the donation of materials which support our mission and goals
LaBudde Special Collections makes its materials available to all researchers on equal terms. While our holdings primarily support the scholarly research of UMKC faculty, students, and staff, we encourage anyone interested in the rich history of Kansas City to do research in its holdings. We welcome scholars; historians; teachers and students at all levels; artists; documentarians; and anyone else curious about the history of the area. In addition to in-person clients, LSC serves patrons from across the globe who discover our resources online.
History of Collections
The University of Kansas City (UKC) opened in 1933. In 1937, the UKC Library received a donation of the Robert J. Snyder, Jr. Collection of Americana from local philanthropist William Volker. The Snyder Collection was built by Robert J. Snyder, Jr., son of a Kansas City natural gas tycoon. Mr. Snyder’s interests were in Western Americana, with a special emphasis on Kansas and Missouri; fine printing; and British history and culture. The Snyder Collection was overwhelmingly comprised of printed books and serials, with much smaller amounts of manuscript and ephemeral materials included. Over time, UKC librarians added to the book collection when resources allowed. As additional volumes were added to the rare book collection, an additional collection designation was necessary to distinguish titles that were outside the range of the subject focus on the original Snyder Collection. Beginning in 1952, “Snyder” and “Z” were instituted as collection designations – the former for titles falling broadly into Western Americana, the latter for everything else.
In 1959, the Kansas City Conservatory merged with the University of Kansas City, and four years later UKC merged with the University of Missouri system to become the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The Conservatory had been collecting music manuscripts prior to the merger, and expanded those efforts into the 1960s and 1970s, led by Conservatory Librarian Jack Ralston. His initiative was labelled the Institute for Studies in American Music, and resulted in the acquisition, through donation and purchase, of a significant number of music manuscript collections. The Conservatory Library was located on the Conservatory campus at 45th and Warwick, and when the school relocated to Volker Campus in 1982, the Library also relocated into the General Library (now Miller Nichols Library), and over time the music manuscripts were transferred into LaBudde Special Collections. With the founding of the Marr Sound Archives in 1987 (see Marr Sound Archives Collection Development Policy for more detail), the influx of music-related collections into that repository included print materials that were relocated into LaBudde Special Collections.
By the late 1990s, an increase in manuscript collection donations began in part because LSC was an early adopter of digitization of collection resources and incorporating them into online exhibits and other discoverable tools, which led to increased visibility of the department and donor interest. Subsequently, active pursuit of manuscript materials was carried out in earnest. In 2009, the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America was founded as a partnership between LSC, the Kansas City Museum, and the Jackson County Historical Society “to collect, preserve, and make accessible the documents and artifacts that reflect the histories of the LGBT communities in the Kansas City region”. Despite the fact that both collaborators stepped away from the initiative by 2014, the enormous success of GLAMA resulted in an enhanced focus on actively collecting material from traditionally underrepresented communities, specifically the local Black and Latinx populations. In 2015 the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame was opened within LSC, and this new emphasis was expanded to include adding collections from local women and women-run and -focused organizations.
Scholarly research value is the primary criterion for collecting materials; exhibit and educational value are also considered. Collecting emphases are based upon our knowledge of researcher needs, and are guided by current strengths as well as areas where we see a need or opportunity to build the collection. Condition, extent, and preservation or conservation needs of materials, as well as our ability to meet those needs, are also considered in any collecting decision.
Scope of Collecting
We collect materials of enduring historical and cultural value that document different facets of the rich history of the Kansas City region, Missouri, and Kansas, from the beginning of the written record of settlement of the area to the present day. Further detail within this broadly outlined scope, including current holdings, strengths, and collecting goals, is set out below:
Format & Types of Materials
We collect a variety of formats and types of materials. Within the rare book collections, we collect all manner of published, printed materials, including books, pamphlets, newspapers, serials, maps and atlases, broadsides, posters, flyers, and ephemera. Within the manuscript materials we collect original, unpublished materials, including personal papers and organizational records; photography and moving images in print, negative, and digital formats; and, in a limited and selective fashion, works of art on paper, paintings, artifacts, and textiles. Audio-visual materials received with manuscript collections are incorporated into the Marr Sound Archives.
The main geographic scope of collecting is the Kansas City region. More broadly, Missouri, Kansas, and the trans-Mississippi West are also included.
Collection resources span the period from the early Common Era to the present day. Currently, the bulk of the materials in the manuscript, book, and photographic collections are from the late-19th to early 21st centuries. We will continue to collect within the entirety of these time periods, both adding more contemporary materials and building upon our existing strengths.
Currently, collections are primarily in English, as well as items in a variety of other languages including but not limited to Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Hebrew, and Yiddish. We will continue to collect primarily in English, but will consider collections with a portion of materials in other languages as they represent the population and communities of the Kansas City region.
While the Black community is well-represented in other categories (e.g., Music), we will continue to collect a wide range of materials that reflect various aspects of the lives of Black Kansas Citians.
The collection contains an impressive array of materials from the local counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, and we will seek opportunities to build on these strengths.
Materials reflecting this population are regularly added to the collection in the form of published works. However, as manuscript materials are identified they will be added as well.
We have a strong foundation in materials from the local Latinx community, and will continue to pursue strengthening the resources in this area.
The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America is currently our most active area in terms of donations and patron usage. Continued engagement with this community should result in significant additional growth of this collecting priority.
The collection includes materials from literary organizations, including The Writer’s Place and the Latino Writers’ Collective, as well as papers from individual authors, and we will continue to pursue additional collections.
Media and Broadcasting
We house materials from radio broadcasting companies, media personalities, and newspaper journalists and columnists, as well as a wide range of local newspapers and periodicals. The massive newspaper clipping “morgue” from the Kansas City Star is also in the collection, as are materials related to the newspaper’s operations. Additions in this area will be added as they are discovered.
This is one of the major strengths of the manuscript collections, and includes materials from performers, composers, promoters, nightclubs, and other facets of the industry. We have the best Kansas City Jazz collection in the world, featuring unique materials from such luminaries as Charlie Parker, Jay McShann, and Count Basie. Classical and popular music are also well-represented in the collection, and we will continue to pursue materials related to all aspects of local music.
We house collections from local politicians who have served in county and Congressional positions, as well as from different political organizations. Materials in this area overlap with other collecting emphases (e.g., LGBT elected officials), and we will continue to add materials related to this topic.
Social Action and Activism
Existing collections documenting the local labor and feminist movements provide the foundation to grow in this area in the future.
The materials already gathered from the local theater community focus on promotion and photographic documentation of productions. Additional areas of emphasis for future collecting endeavors include collections from playwrights, actors, and design personnel (e.g., stage, costume, and lighting).
The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame has facilitated the addition of a wide range of individual collections from inductees. In addition, we house materials related to domestic life, parenting, social service agencies founded or operated by women, women’s philanthropic organizations, and the history of girlhood as reflected in diaries, yearbooks, and scrapbooks. These materials see frequent classroom and other use, and will continue to be a collecting priority.
Acquisitions may, on occasion, be considered that do not fall within the areas listed above, in anticipation of new emphases, emerging research trends, and institutional exhibition and program planning.
Donation is the preferred method of acquisition of materials; gifts of materials are accepted from both individuals and organizations. Deposits where ownership is not transferred to the University will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Purchases of manuscript collection material also only occur in exceptional circumstances. Print books and serials will be added to the collection regularly, especially those related to local history. Select books on priority collecting interests (e.g., Indigenous communities, LGBT history) will be added even if not considered “rare”, and even if the Library has access to electronic versions, in anticipation of electronic access potentially disappearing in the future.
A maximum of three copies of any item will generally be retained; exceptions will be made based upon popularity, rarity, age, and condition.
Duplicate, out of scope, and other unwanted items donated with manuscript collections will be disposed of in accordance with the stipulations of the Deed of Gift. In the absence of a Deed, LSC staff will exercise their best professional judgment as to appropriate disposition method. Additionally, collection appraisal is a continuing process and the scope of collecting of the institution may change over time.
Materials with restrictions on access or use will generally not be accepted; in some cases, materials of great research value with clearly stated restrictions of limited duration will be considered. Materials will not be accepted if the donor’s legal ownership of them is uncertain. Photocopies of manuscript or other original materials are generally not accepted. Within the photography collections, obvious copies of original prints will not be collected. Exceptions will be considered, but will become part of a reference collection rather than formally accessioned.
LaBudde Special Collections works to have strong relationships with other area repositories whose collecting missions complement and coincide with our own. These include, but are not limited to: the State Historical Society of Missouri-Kansas City Research Center; Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library; the Black Archives of Mid-America, Inc.; the Jackson County Historical Society; and the Johnson County Museum. LSC staff will make referrals whenever possible when materials offered to the department that do not fall within our collecting scope may be appropriate for these repositories. Moreover, LSC Collection priorities are informed by the collection strengths and priorities at these institutions.
We recognize that collecting focus may change over time in response to a variety of factors. In response to this, we will review this policy when a new version of the University Libraries Strategic Plan is issued.
This policy was developed based on the “Collection Development Policy for Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections” from the Brooklyn Historical Society.