Archives and Special Collections (ASC) preserves and provides access to primary resources for research, study, and teaching within the University's instructional programs, and offers distinctive and unique resources for the region and the scholarly community worldwide. The units of Archives and Special Collections: University Archives and Records Center, which also administers the University's Oral History Center, Digital Initiatives, Photographic Archives, and Rare Books, may accept gifts, in any format, which support this mission. Archives and Special Collections will consider on a case by case basis individual items or collections requiring conservation, and will not add materials if resources to care for them are not available. Individual items or collections requiring permanent display or exhibition will not be added.
The University Archives and Records Center holds significant primary resources for research in late nineteenth century history through the present. Its materials concern the history of the University of Louisville and the Louisville metropolitan area. As "The Memory of the University," the Archives preserves and makes available for research the official records of the University of Louisville, one of the oldest municipal universities in the United States, in accordance with state and federal law and university policy.
The Archives is also known for its urban history collections, nineteenth and twentieth century records of significant Louisville-area businesses, cultural organizations, social service agencies, and churches, and personal papers of political figures, scholars, and members of the Jewish and African American communities. Archives and Special Collections does not actively collect manuscript materials relating to other areas of Kentucky, unless they relate to literary or photographic history. Occasionally, small portions of family papers held by University Archives may relate to other parts of the state but such materials are rare.
The University's Oral History Center preserves over 2,000 interviews with university personnel and students, community leaders, members of ethnic communities, workers, and business executives. Archivists will consider on a case by case basis individual interviews or collections of interviews that fall within ASC's collecting scope but are not accompanied by documented consent, either written or verbally recorded.
Individual items and collections created in electronic formats may be considered across all areas of Archives and Special Collections. Generally speaking, ASC does not acquire digitized content (e.g., scanned photographs) that is not accompanied by the analog original. ASC will accept born-digital items on a case by case basis, with priority given to digital objects with appropriate permissions and documentation of digital capture.
The Photographic Archives include internationally significant collections of documentary photography, fine art photographic prints important in the history of photography or documenting specific photographic processes, and photographs documenting the history of Louisville, Kentucky. The Photographic Archives will consider donations of photographic materials relating to Louisville and the surrounding region that are determined to possess historical and research value.
The University Archives and Records Center's photographic holdings primarily concern historical images of the University facilities, activities, and campuses. Collections of private and organizational materials sometimes also contain photographs relating to the originating families, companies, or associations.
Generally current and recent photographs of the University are administered by University of Louisville Office of Communication and Marketing; sports and athletics by the Office of Sports Information.
The Rare Books collections emphasize literature, history, and popular culture. They also include fragile materials and some materials printed in Louisville and likely to become rare or ephemeral in future. Books, manuscripts, and other materials which enhance existing collections in areas such as Irish Literary Renaissance literature, rare mathematics and astronomy, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) studies, or specific authors such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Graham Greene and J.D. Salinger, will be considered, as will significant comprehensive collections which provide primary source support for instructional programs.