The Lawrence University Archives promotes understanding of Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer College history by collecting, preserving, and making accessible unique materials that document this history. It is the official repository for University records of enduring value. In supporting the research needs of Lawrence students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the wider community, the Archives helps fulfill the teaching and learning mission of the University.



The Archives seeks to acquire materials that collectively provide documentation of Lawrence University and Milwaukee-Downer College history with breadth and depth. The Archives acquires materials primarily through transfers from University offices and departments and donations from faculty, staff, students and alumni.


Collections in the Archives are preserved in accordance with professional archival practices. Materials are stored in acid-free containers and housed in a secure environment. Archival collections do not circulate and are only available for research in the Archives with the supervision of the Archivist.


The Archives makes collections accessible to researchers, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Lawrence University and Milwaukee-Downer College, as well as visiting scholars and members of the general public. Digitization work is conducted to provide access to a wider audience via web presentation of archival holdings


As a repository of unique materials on the Lawrence campus, the Archives supports creative teaching and learning by serving as a laboratory for classes working with primary research materials.


Outreach activities promote understanding of Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer history and knowledge of the Archives as a campus resource. These activities include: exhibits and displays, presentations pertaining to Lawrence history, use of social media, collaborations with student organizations and other offices and departments, and activities in conjunction with annual Reunion Weekends.

Collecting priorities

The Archives currently holds about 2,000 linear feet of collections. These collections represent a wide variety of unpublished materials from both Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer College, including presidential papers; records from University offices and departments; papers of faculty and alumni; student honors projects; and a number of scrapbooks, photographs, and artifacts. The Archives also houses collections of published materials such as yearbooks, student newspapers, and other campus publications. Collections date back as far as the founding of Lawrence in the mid-1840s, and new materials are continually acquired.

University Records (Transfers)

University records management is governed by the Lawrence University Records Management Policy. For detailed information on retention and disposition requirements for different types of university records, including those designated for permanent retention in the Archives, please refer to the Lawrence University General Records Retention Schedule. These documents and other resources related to records management can be found on our Records Management Guide.

In general, the Archives seeks to acquire departmental records that best illustrate the purpose, activities, and policies of the department. Documents that represent an "end product," such as a final report, instead of a draft, are most useful for these purposes. Records donated to the Archives should be inactive – no longer regularly used for routine business. Types of documentation that the Archives is most interested in obtaining include:

  • policy documents
  • substantive correspondence
  • meeting minutes
  • newsletters, pamphlets, or brochures
  • organizational charts
  • reports
  • photographs
  • audiovisual materials


Manuscript Collections (Donations)

Collections of personal papers of faculty, staff, and alumni that document Lawrence people and events are also a vital part of the Archives’ collections. Types of documentation that the Archives is most interested in obtaining include:

From faculty:

Materials that reflect your time at Lawrence/Milwaukee-Downer, including:

  • correspondence
  • memoirs and reminiscences
  • diaries
  • scrapbooks and photo albums
  • professional papers
  • syllabi and course materials
  • speeches and lectures
  • photographs
  • audiovisual materials

From alumni/students:

Materials that reflect your time at Lawrence/Milwaukee-Downer, including:

  • correspondence
  • memoirs and reminiscences
  • diaries
  • scrapbooks and photo albums
  • photographs
  • audiovisual materials

From student organizations:

  • founding documents
  • meeting minutes and agendas
  • publications (like newsletters)
  • membership lists
  • correspondence
  • organizational histories or annual reports
  • posters and promotional materials
  • scrapbooks
  • photographs

Formats of Materials Collected

The Archives collects records in all formats, including paper, audiovisual materials, electronic/digital records, photographs, and memorabilia.

Materials Not Collected

The Archives does not collect materials that are outside the scope of our collecting priorities or the Archives deems it is unable to care for, including: materials that are in such poor condition as to be unusable; photocopies of documents from other repositories; duplicates of current holdings (unless in better condition than the Archives’ copy); materials with access restrictions in perpetuity or for a period of time deemed beyond reasonable limitation to the University Archives, such as student records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act; materials with preservation requirements that cannot be met by the Archives' facilities.

Resource Sharing

Materials from the Archives are occasionally loaned to other repositories. When an item is loaned to another repository, both institutions sign a written contract indicating the date the item is loaned, how it is transferred to the borrowing repository, the condition of the item when it is transported, and the date it will be returned.


The Archives’ collecting abilities are limited by space considerations. If at any time donated material is deemed to be outside the scope of the Archives' collecting plan, it may be considered for de-accession. The Archives will consider several options for de-accession: return of the material to the donor or the donor’s family, transfer of the material to another University office, donation of the material to another repository, or destruction of the material. For manuscript collections, de-accession procedures will be determined based on instructions specified in the deed of gift, when applicable.

Policy Evaluation and Review

This policy will be reviewed frequently and updated as needed. Last updated November, 2021.