Collection development guidelines

Statement of purpose for guidelines

The Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections has specific collection strengths founded on major research and educational pursuits of university faculty and students and, with regard to records in the university archives, in accordance with state statutes. Since a primary responsibility of the department is to serve the research needs of the Kansas State University community, the department focuses on subject areas receiving sustained attention from faculty, students, and alumni, and uses a Collection Development Working Group (CDWG) to analyze the relevance of these subject areas. The department also seeks to enhance the university’s research reputation and acquires targeted collections of national and international significance. The department maintains these collections to enhance the Libraries’ general collections, and because they are best managed separately due to their uniqueness, rarity, source, physical condition, and/or content.

CDWG developed these guidelines to assist department personnel as they make decisions regarding collection development. Such decisions include identifying, selecting, preserving, describing, providing access to, and promoting unique materials that meet administrative, educational, or research needs of constituents at K-State and those from other geographical locations.


Goals for developing collections

  • Acquire materials through records transfers, donation, and/or purchase that align with collection strengths and support the teaching, research, and service needs of faculty and students.
  • Acquire collections of national and international significance to enhance the research reputation of K-State.
  • Limit restrictions on access.
  • Ensure that appropriate professional conservation and preservation activities occur as necessary.
  • Collaborate with public services personnel to facilitate use of collections.
  • Coordinate with processing personnel to ensure acquired materials are available to researchers in a timely manner.
  • Periodically review collecting areas to determine if they are meeting the institutional teaching, research, and service missions.


Collection strengths

Consumer Movement

The Consumer Movement Archives (CMA) was established in 1987 through the initiative of Richard L. D. Morse, a prominent leader in the consumer movement and Kansas State University professor. Broadly defined, the consumer movement consists of individuals and organizations that advocate for the rights and welfare of consumers, especially when those rights are violated by corporations and governments. The CMA is national in scope, preserving and documenting the history of the consumer movement in the United States. It provides a repository for the papers and records of consumer leaders, activists, and organizations, and it promotes scholarly use of the material.

    • Foundational collections include the personal papers of Richard L. D. Morse, Roy Kiesling, Stewart Lee, Florence Mason, and Dorothy Willner, as well as organizational records from active associations including the American Council on Consumer Interests, National Consumer Law Center, and Consumer Federation of America.
    • Key issues of interest include consumer history, protection, rights, health and safety, finance (e.g., truth in lending and savings), products, representation in government, law, cooperatives, and dependent consumers (aged, disabled, disadvantaged, underrepresented, etc.).
    • Collections are acquired mainly through solicitation of donations, though purchase will be considered.
    • Materials considered include correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports, legal documents, financial records, policies, printed material, photographs, and audiovisual and electronic records.
    • Specific exclusions are pre-20th century papers and records, large collections of legal documents, and duplicates of consumer-related books and periodicals.
    • In an effort to align with K-State’s curriculum, future collection development areas could emphasize consumer issues relating to military families, the financial services industry, and the food, agriculture, and nutrition arena.



Cookery, in all its forms, is and will continue to be a major focus of collecting both through active purchases and solicitation of donations. The Cookery Collection encompasses both printed materials and the personal collections of food writers, nutritionists, and journalists. The collection has an international scope, but is largely focused on United States foodways. With materials dating from 1487 to the present, this collection is comprehensive. Supporting materials include departmental records and alumni collections maintained in the University Archives. This collection strength area is reviewed annually to determine if portions within it need updating or expanding (e.g., food fads such as “paleo diets” and unrepresented or underrepresented areas).

    • Examples of food writers' papers in the repository include Clementine Paddleford, Shirley Sarvis, Sue Dawson, and Marian Van Atta.
    • The collection has a significantly large number of manuscript cookbooks dating from the 17th century through the 20th century, with no restrictions on written language or country of origin.
    • Items not collected are cooking implements or recipe card files (exceptions may be made in the latter).
    • The Cookery Collection's greatest strength is printed materials, which began with the donation of the Abby Lillian Marlatt Collection in 1943. Printed materials are defined as books, pamphlets, calendars, trade publications, serials, and ephemeral items.

Kansas life and culture

Primary and secondary resources in the department's holdings document Kansas history and historical aspects of beef and wheat production, grassland ecology, range management, water, Native Americans, rural sociology, and rural geography in Kansas and the Great Plains. Core collections in this area include the books and personal papers of Kansas and Western historians Homer E. Socolofsky and David Dary. Printed materials date from the earliest known in Kansas (1838) and continue to the present year. Topical areas of strength include “Bleeding Kansas”, settlement of Kansas, ranching, general agriculture, Santa Fe Trail, political history, railroads, military history, Prohibition, and the development of Kansas State University. The following subcategories further define this topical area.

    • Agriculture and rural life: Records of ranches, farms, milling companies, beef cattle industry, and allied agricultural businesses. Far-Mar-Co and Farmland records are the largest quantity of materials in this area. Also collected are personal papers and collections that uniquely document Great Plains rural history including settlement, homesteading, pioneer communities, and railroads.
    • Grain science and milling: Records of milling companies and allied businesses involved in crop production, breeding and genetics, crop protection, harvesting, transportation, post-harvest handling and storage, technical manuals printed prior to 1850, and early U.S. milling periodicals/journals, books, and other printed materials that detail the history of the grain industry in the state (1830–present).
    • Kansans in the military: Collected on a very selective basis. Collections of women who served in the military are highest priority, as are those of K-State alumni.

Kansas State University history

The University Archives is responsible for documenting the history of Kansas State University, and thus includes institutional records, affiliated organizational records, documentation of student organizations and student life and culture, and faculty and staff contributions. The subcategories below further define this topical area.

    • Institutional records: Records transferred according to the university's records retention policy and schedule, PPM Chapter 3090. Additionally, any documentation of Bluemont Central College, the university's preceding institution, is of interest.
    • Affiliated organization records: Records of university-affiliated organizations, such as the Friends of the Libraries, KSU Foundation, or academic honor societies. Targeted donations of more detailed materials from entities with significance to the university community, with topical relationships to other collection strengths, or with connections to underdocumented communities.
    • Student organizations: Basic documentation of as many organizations as possible (recognized campus organizations and unofficial groups), with targeted donations of more detailed materials from entities with a national reputation, with topical relationships to other collection strengths, or with connections to underdocumented communities.
    • Documentation of student life and culture: Personal papers and collections that uniquely document student life and culture at the university. These may include alumni, former students, staff, or collectors of university history.
    • Faculty and staff papers and contributions: Personal papers of faculty and staff that document the administrative, intellectual, social, and cultural history of the university. While faculty papers in all disciplines are of interest, historical collecting strengths have been in traditional land-grant topics such as agriculture, human ecology, and military studies. Consideration will also be given to faculty with a national reputation, a topical relationship to other collection strengths, or with connections to underdocumented communities. Publications of faculty and staff are of interest as well.



We actively collect a range of materials including photographs, maps, printed books, manuscripts, personal narratives, diaries, letters, and corporate records. Special Collections reserves the right to accept donations without restrictions, to turn away gifts prior to donation, and to dispose appropriately of materials that, after receipt, are deemed unsuitable to the collection. Materials not selected for Special Collections, whether duplicates or outside the range of current policy, may be considered for addition to the Libraries’ main collection.

Have a question or comment? Please feel free to contact us at or 785-532-7456.