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Purpose and Mission Statement

The Lake Superior Maritime Collections Archives (LSMCA) seeks to build a research collection of high quality by identifying, collecting, preserving, and providing access to materials that tell the story of maritime history and activities relating to communities surrounding Lake Superior and the upper Great Lakes. As an integral part of the teaching and research functions of the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the LSMCA seeks to support research in the study of aquatic biology and the environment, transportation & logistics, and the local maritime history of the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior.

The LSMCA contains unique resources for the study of maritime history on the upper Great Lakes. The focus of the Collection is primarily on Lake Superior and its environs, and the work of the Corps of Engineers office in Duluth, MN. Additional emphases of the Collection also extend, because of the international nature of trade, to the lower Great Lakes and beyond. These sources are intended to support UW-Superior faculty and student research, as well as the needs of the Lake Superior Marine Visitors Center, and the broader communities of the Twin Ports and Maritime historians and hobbyists.



Collection Policy of the Lake Superior Maritime Collections

BACKGROUND: Definition of 'Archival Records'

Archival records falls into two broad categories: Formal archival materials, and Ephemera. Archival records are normally unpublished. Formal documents range from government, corporate and business records, personal papers such as diaries and correspondence, professional papers, operational records such as ships logs, dredge logs, or shipyard time sheets, research manuscripts, oral histories, and official copies of legal documents, such as ship registrations. Less formal are the items known as ephemera, which typically include newspaper articles, brochures, broadsheets, advertisements, and similar matter. Archival records may exist in eye-readable or electronically recorded formats. In addition, various published research materials are commonly held to support study and research within the archival collections. The process of selection, acquisition and organization of archival materials is a cooperative venture between the Archivist, the Maritime Collections Advisory Board, and various subject specialists. The objectives of collection development are to develop and strengthen the collection based upon the perceived Mission, to support the University curriculum, and to provide for the research and information needs of the maritime communities. A co-operative arrangement is maintained with the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association concerning treatment and management of the original core collection. Acquisitions are handled individually, based upon the following general guidelines.


Selection is a continual process of assessing and weighing the focus and research value of the materials, both within the collections and those that may potentially be acquired. Responsibility for evaluation of matierials for possible inclusion in the Collections falls primarily upon the Archivist, in consultation with the Maritime Collections Advisory Board. Items considered for inclusion in the collections shall also be evaluated by weighing their preservation for scholarly or historical value and the costs of conservation.


The Archives accepts gift materials. The Archives may refuse all or parts of donations that fall outside the scope of the Collections Policy. Professional standards, University policy and IRS regulations prohibit the Archives from determining monetary appraisal of gifts. The Archives through a 'Deed of Gift' formally acknowledge donations (see 'Information for Donors'). In general, the Archives does not have the financial means to purchase collections. In exceptional cases the Advisory Board may recommend fundraising through supporting Associations for the puropose of purchasing particularly unique and threatened material. The Archives shall accept a limited number of non-Great Lakes marine materials of research or historical merit, provided they illustrate essential similarities or differences between Great Lakes marine activity and other forms of marine activity. Bibliographic portions of offered collections that fall outside the scope of the Maritime Archives, however, may be accessioned into the JDH Library circulating collections in support of the general research and study needs of the students and faculty of the University and the local community. The Archives may also accept accessions that, if the Archives did not accept them, would be lost to posterity. This 'rescue accessioning' could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with the tacit understanding that the material would be deaccessioned and transferred to another institution if appropriate.


In addition to the unpublished archival materials listed above, the Archives shall maintain additional items in diverse formats.

Bibliographic. The Archives shall collect published maritime related material in order to develop a strong library resource for students and faculty, marine historians, researchers, and general users. The material shall encompass international as well as Great Lakes marine topics, while focusing primarily on Lake Superior and its environs. The types of bibliographic material collected will include monographs, Festschriften, serials, select unpublished papers and reports, manuals, theses, and vertical file ephemera.

Pictorial/Graphic. Graphic material shall include, but not be limited to, two-dimensional original works of art, photographs and negatives, microforms, moving film and VHS video, lithographs and prints, engineering drawings, ship plans, and maps/charts.

Resource Sharing. In order to more fully provide access to Maritime research information, JDH Archives participates in various resource sharing projects, including digitization projects with the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and a joint project of the Archives of University of Wisconsin-System and State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The Archives also, through its online Web Pages, maintains electronic links to other Great Lakes Maritime Collections of note.


Care of Materials. When the Archives adds gift materials to its holdings, it shall take care to ensure their long-term preservation and to make them accessible to researchers. Materials shall be housed in closed stack areas under environmentally controlled conditions, protected by an electronic security system, and will not circulate outside the Archives reading room. Acid-free boxes, folders, and other containers shall be employed to house materials, and item-level conservation steps shall be taken when appropriate. To permit research use of materials, items and collections shall be arranged, described, and cataloged in accordance with standard library and archival procedures. To promote widespread awareness of holdings, the Archives shall make descriptions of collections and items available on its own website, on the UW-Superior Library system online catalog, and through national databases such as OCLC. Reading room regulations and close staff supervision shall be employed to promote the security and proper use of materials by researchers.