Academic Program Support

The Archives Department has a two-fold mission: to document the history of UWM, and to select, preserve, and make available primary source materials that have long-term value for research and instruction at UWM. The collection primarily supports academic departments and programs in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. All holdings are accessible to the general public, excepting those restricted by federal and state law or university policy, for preservation or privacy reasons, or as a condition of gift established by a donor.

Collection Level

Collection levels vary from basic to advanced study.

Collection Profile

The Archives Department administers three main categories of records: the UWM Archives, the UWM Manuscripts Collection, and the Milwaukee Area Research Center (ARC) Collection.

UWM Archives

The UWM Archives consists of the non-current records of UWM that have continuing administrative, fiscal, legal, or historical value. It includes records from major campus administrative offices, departments, and student-related activities. In order to ensure the proper maintenance, protection, retention, and disposition of institutional records, the Archives Department administers UWM’s Records Management Program.

Milwaukee ARC Collection

The Milwaukee ARC Collection consists of Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) manuscript collections and public records relating to a five-county region placed on permanent deposit at UWM. The WHS develops its manuscripts collections according to its Collection Development Policy for Wisconsin Manuscripts (June 12, 1987). According to this policy, collecting areas include the arts, agriculture, communications, industry/business, labor, military, natural resources, politics and government, populations, religion, recreation and leisure, settlement, social organization and activity, and transportation.

As a member of the ARC Network, the Archives is able to provide local access to the holdings of the WHS and other ARCs via the ARC transfer system.

UWM Manuscripts Collection

The UWM Manuscripts Collection consists of primary source materials acquired by UWM and having long-term research and instructional value for its academic programs. It includes the personal papers of individuals, as well as the records of organizations and businesses. Most holdings pertain to the metropolitan Milwaukee area.

Current Collecting Areas

To avoid competition with other institutions that also have interests in acquiring primary sources within the Milwaukee area, the Archives focuses its manuscripts collecting to specific subject areas. The following section identifies subjects in which the Archives has a current interest and the level of activity with which it pursues acquisitions (i.e., solicitation or acceptance).

Arts and Architecture

The Archives accepts manuscript collections documenting the activities of especially significant artists, writers, and performing artists in the Milwaukee area.

The Archives accepts collections pertaining to the work of Milwaukee-based architects whose work is of local, statewide, or national prominence; historically significant buildings in the Milwaukee area; and the development of Milwaukee’s built environment generally. The Archives acquires records in all formats with the intent of documenting the design process from conception to completion and recording any significant changes, commentary, or criticism. Project files, drawings, and photographs are especially sought. The Archives does not acquire three-dimensional models.

Aviation and Aircraft

The Archives accepts collections that document the development of modern aviation and aircraft in Wisconsin from the 1890s to the mid-1960s. Areas of focus include military, commercial, instructional, and hobbyist aspects of aviation.

Brewing History

The Archives accepts collections that document the history of brewing in Milwaukee, including the temperance movement and prohibition period (1919-1933). The Archives selectively acquires three-dimensional objects to support research in this area.

Information Science Professions

The Archives accepts organizational records and personal papers that document the history of information science professions, particularly the archives profession. The Archives serves as repository for the Society of American Archivists and the Midwest Archives Conference and solicits the historical records of each organization. The Archives accepts nationally the papers of individuals who have made significant contributions to the archival profession.

Journalism and Mass Communications

The Archives accepts collections that document the local history of broadcast and print journalism and mass communications when such collections support development of other, established collecting areas (e.g., the records of a Latino newspaper, or the papers of a faculty member in UWM’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications).

Medical and Health Care

The Archives accepts collections that document the history of nursing and medical issues when such collections support development of other, established collecting areas (e.g., the papers of a faculty member in UWM’s School of Nursing, or the records of an organization providing health care services to a minority population).

Social Action

The Archives accepts collections that document local social action when such collections support development of other, established collecting areas (e.g., Milwaukee’s socialist history, health care, neighborhood revitalization, peace activism, anti-discrimination and civil liberties).

Underrepresented Population Groups

The Archives accepts collections that document historically underrepresented population groups based on ethnicity, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

UWM (Non-Official Records)

The Archives is responsible for documenting the history of UWM. Official university records comprise the University Archives Collection. Non-official records are acquired for the UWM Manuscripts Collection. Such records may fall within the following categories:

Predecessor Institutions

The Archives accepts collections that pertain to UWM predecessor institutions: the Wisconsin State Teachers College (Milwaukee), the Milwaukee State Teachers College, and the University of Wisconsin Extension.

Faculty Papers

The Archives accepts UWM faculty papers to enhance documentation of the university’s academic and administrative history beyond what is found in official records. Typically, these faculty papers relate to an individual’s teaching, research, and university service. The Archives also collects faculty papers when topics documented in those records directly pertain to other collecting areas.

Alumni Papers

The Archives accepts alumni papers that enhance documentation of the university’s history by providing evidence of student life and activities, or that directly pertain to other collecting areas.

De-Selection Criteria

Deaccessioning is an integral and essential tool of collection development. In selecting collections for deaccessioning—whether processed or not—the Archives Department Head considers the following:

  • Does the material fall within the scope of current collecting policies?
  • Has the material deteriorated beyond real usefulness?
  • Do any externally imposed restrictions, such as records retention and disposition authorizations or donor agreements, apply to the material?

The Archives Department Head forwards recommendations to the Assistant Library Director overseeing the Division of Archives and Special Collections. Material to be deaccessioned may be returned to the donor, gifted to a more appropriate repository, or discarded.


English-language materials predominate. Materials in other languages are acquired as appropriate.

Geographic Guidelines

Most holdings pertain to the metropolitan Milwaukee area. The Archives only national collecting area is the history of the archives profession and archival administration.

Related Library Units

  • American Geographical Society Library
  • Special Collections Department
  • Microforms (Genealogical Resources)

Revision approved by the UWM Libraries Collection Development Committee and Executive Cabinet, March 2006