Collection Development

The Special Collections and Archives Department serves as a research repository for rare, unique, and primary source materials in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. Special Collections and Archives acquires, preserves, and provides access to a wide range of primary research materials in their original formats. The Department is also the repository for all Wake Forest University records of permanent historical value and in particular, seeks to better document underrepresented communities on campus. Our collections are open to all, visitors do not need to be affiliated with Wake Forest University.

Service to the local, regional, national and international scholarly communities is also an important component of the Department’s mission. Special Collections and Archives therefore seeks to collect and preserve materials of potential interest to both current and future researchers. Finally, the Department seeks to build and enhance collections in subject areas not already well covered at other repositories.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

North Carolina Baptist Historical Collection

The North Carolina Baptist Historical Collection (also known as the Ethel Taylor Crittenden Collection in Baptist History) documents the history of North Carolina Baptist churches, institutions, and individuals, including the Alliance of Baptists and the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina archives. The collection contains materials on Southern, Missionary, Primitive, African American, Union, and Alliance of Baptist churches. Books, periodicals, association annuals and other printed materials; church records; association minutes; and church vertical files as well as biographical information and photographs of Baptist pastors and Wake Forest alumni will be considered for the collection.

Existing Collection Strengths: history of Baptists in NC; early history of Baptists in U.S. South; Baptist missions; progressive Baptist movements in 20th century

Active Collecting Areas: North Carolina Baptist churches; North Carolina Baptist organizations; 18th century trans-Atlantic Baptist history; missionary memoirs; Baptist fiction

NC Baptist Historical Collection

Rare Books

The Rare Books Collection consists of approximately 70,000 books, pamphlets, serials, and maps in a variety of subject areas. A major collection emphasis is American, Irish, and British authors of the eighteenth through twenty-first centuries. The collection also supports study in the literature and history of the French Enlightenment; American cultural and social history, with particular emphasis on North Carolina; and the history of books and printing.

Existing areas of strength: Irish Literary Renaissance authors (W.B. and Jack Yeats, Lady Gregory, Katharine Tynan), 20th century Irish poets, 18th and 19th century novelists, Modernist literature (T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf/Hogarth Press), and African American literature. Active Collecting Areas

Active Collecting Areas: 17th-19th century English and American women authors; African American foodways; African American poets; 18th-19th century American literary anthologies; 17th-19th century women’s education; African, Asian, and Middle-Eastern travel literature; Missionary memoirs (especially American Baptists); 18th-19th century religious fiction; Selected materials important to the history of books and printing in Europe and America; NC artists’ books


The Manuscripts Collection includes personal papers and collections covering a wide range of subjects. These collections of unpublished primary source material were generated by individuals, families, and organizations with connections or relevance to Wake Forest University and its curriculum. Types of materials in these collections include writings, correspondence, photographs, architectural drawings, audio-visual materials, and computer files.

Existing areas of strength: 20th century American literature and history, 20th century Irish poetry and publishing, English and American theater history, and the cultural and social history of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Major manuscript holdings include: Dolmen Press Archive/Liam Miller Papers; Harold T. P. Hayes Papers; Maya Angelou Film and Theater Collection; Laurence Stallings Papers; Wilbur J. Cash Papers; Allen Mandelbaum Papers; Gen. Evelyn T. Foote Papers; Gerald W. Johnson Papers; Ronald Watkins Papers; Clarence Herbert New Collection; Gertrude and Max Hoffmann Collection; Jan Hensley Collection of North Carolina Authors

Active Collecting Areas: Manuscripts that enhance existing major collections or that fall into one of the categories listed below. In general, we collect personal papers of individuals. Records of organizations are occasionally added to the collection, but we are unable to accept large institutional archives.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Personal papers of North Carolina authors not already collected elsewhere
  • Materials that directly pertain to authors and subjects in the Rare Books Collections
  • Papers of alumni or other persons associated with Wake Forest that enhance documentation of the university’s history or that directly pertain to other collecting areas
  • Primary source materials that document the cultural life and history of Winston-Salem and the surrounding region

University Archives

The Wake Forest University Archives serves as the official repository for the permanent records (both physical and electronic records) of Wake Forest University. Its primary purpose is to serve the administrative, teaching, research, and public service needs of the University and other user communities. In order to fulfill this purpose, the University Archives collects those records that have enduring value to documenting the history of Wake Forest University, its administration, programs, services, and all members of its community. Records which possess historical, administrative, legal, and fiscal value are identified and retained permanently. The University Archives then preserves these records and makes them available for researchers.

The University Archives seeks to document the Wake Forest University community, which includes the administration, faculty, students, alumni, and staff. In assessing records appropriate for permanent retention, the University Archives attempts to collect the documentation produced from the conduct of University business. There are seven functions common to the operations of most academic institutions: convey knowledge; advance knowledge; confer credentials; foster socialization; maintain and promote culture; sustain the institution; and provide public service.

The University Archives is also focused on documenting the student experience at Wake Forest, particularly underrepresented groups.

[Varsity Letters: Documenting Modern Colleges and Universities, Helen Willa Samuels, The Society of American Archivists and the Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1992. pp.19-23.]

Official Records, Papers, and Publications of Wake Forest University

These records (which give evidence about the functions, policies, and decisions of the University) include among many different forms correspondence, reports, minutes, directives, announcements, publications, architectural and building plans, maps, prints, electronic files, and any other material produced by the University in pursuance of its functions. Records containing student information may be restricted due to University policies and state and federal laws. The University Archives also collects all publications, newsletters, or booklets distributed by Wake Forest University including catalogs, yearbooks, student newspapers, directories and faculty/staff rosters, faculty and administrative newsletters and publications, and alumni publications. Audiovisual records documenting the development of the University such as photographic prints and negatives, slides, motion picture film, oral history interviews, audio and video tape, discs, and recordings are also collected.

Faculty Papers

As an important part of its mission of documenting the life of the Wake Forest University community and placing it in a broader social context, the University Archives actively seeks to acquire, organize, and make available the personal and professional papers of the Wake Forest University faculty. Faculty papers offer insight into the history and operation of the University that otherwise may be lost by relying only on official administrative records. They reveal professional interests and opinions that frequently clarify matters mentioned in the official records of the central administration. Faculty papers document the academic life of the University and relate one’s academic career to his or her total interests, thereby constituting an important record. Personal viewpoints expressed in personal correspondence and documentation resulting from service on academic committees may provide a better basis for understanding the University than official records from administrative offices alone.

The following types of documentation reflect and illuminate the careers of the Wake Forest University faculty: official, professional, and personal correspondence (including e-mail); biographical material; photographs; tape recordings; class lecture notes and syllabi; research files; departmental or committee minutes and records; drafts and manuscripts of articles and books written; and diaries, notebooks, and memorabilia. These records will be accepted as hard copy originals or in electronic formats.

The Wake Forest University Archives is committed to preserving selected faculty papers and to making them available for research as soon as possible. At the same time, it has an obligation to guard against invasion of privacy and to protect the confidentiality in its records in accordance with law. Therefore, every private donor has the right to impose reasonable restrictions upon his or her papers to protect confidentiality for a reasonable period of time. Restrictions on access are for a fixed term and are determined at the time of donation. The University Archives does not accept agreements that restrict access to material in perpetuity or does not supply a specific date releasing the restriction. It encourages minimal access restrictions consistent with the legal rights of all concerned.

Artifacts or Three-Dimensional Objects

The University Archives seeks to collect artifacts that further the Department’s mission to identify, select, preserve, create access to, provide reference assistance for, and promote the use of rare and unique research materials that support major research areas of Wake Forest University. The Department will consider for inclusion in the collection artifacts that contain well-documented provenance (1) and are in fair and original condition. The Department will limit collecting to items that can be reasonably preserved, cared for, stored, and made accessible for research and exhibit purposes.

[1] Provenance includes where, how, and by whom the item was created, acquired, and/or used; how the donor came to possess the artifact; and any other pertinent information regarding the object.

Books by Wake Forest University-affiliated Individuals and Groups

The University Archives collects selected monographs relating to Wake Forest University history or authored by Wake Forest University alumni, faculty, staff, and students.

Web-based Content

The University Archives seeks to collect academic, administrative, and social web content relating to Wake Forest University. This collection, utilizing Archive-It, includes materials published by Wake Forest University, news about Wake Forest University, social media documenting University life, and related scholarship available on the web.

Digital Collections/Electronic Records

The creation and stewardship of digital collections enables the library to provide access to rare and unique materials for library users and researchers around the world. Our collection development policy for digital collections guides the process by which Special Collections & Archives materials are selected, digitized, described, and made available on the web. Our digital collections mission statement, located at the top of our Digital Collections page, also adheres to this policy. Most digitization projects at Z. Smith Reynolds Library fall into one of the following categories:

  • Electronic records. Created and transferred from university offices.
  • Ongoing digitization. Library faculty and staff select entire collections or other large groups of Special Collections & Archives materials to be added to our permanent digital collections.
  • Patron digitization requests. Patrons may request digital reproductions of Special Collections & Archives materials. These digitized materials may or may not be added to our permanent digital collections.

Selection criteria for digitization and transfer include:

  • Historical value. Usefulness or significance of materials for understanding the past; seeking to expand our collections for underrepresented communities.
  • Audience and use value. Usefulness or significance of materials to specific communities and WFU courses.
  • Copyright analysis. Determination of copyright status and/or level of legal risk ZSR is willing to accept for digitizing materials.
  • Physical condition. Ability of materials to withstand stresses of the digitization process.
  • Technical feasibility. Project requirements and techniques given existing infrastructure for digital projects.
  • Resource requirements. Human and financial resources required for digitizing, describing, maintaining, and making materials available digitally.

Policy reviewed annually (2024).