Old Dominion University Libraries

Special Collections & University Archives

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Monday - Friday:
9 am - 4:30 pm

Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

Contact Information

Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


University Archives Collection Development Policy


The University Archives serves as the corporate memory of the university from its inception as the Norfolk Division of William and Mary in 1930, through the creation of Old Dominion College in 1962 and transformation to Old Dominion University in 1968 to the present day. The University Archives principal function is to document Old Dominion University’s history and to provide a secure repository for the university's historically significant records.

Collecting Guidelines

Collected in the archives is the written and photographic history of the University. This collection serves as the repository for non-current records of lasting value for all offices, departments, and divisions of the University. These include records of the Board of Visitors, the Office of the President, Vice Presidents, deans, and directors; personal papers of donated by faculty members; and the records of student, faculty and staff organizations.
University publications to be collected are as follows:

  • University Catalogs, two copies
  • Class schedules, two copies
  • Mace and Crown (student newspaper), one bound copy.
  • Courier (faculty-staff newspaper), one bound copy.
  • Alumnews, one bound copy.

Archival copies of the original, signed copy of Old Dominion University theses and dissertations are housed in Special Collections. A second copy is cataloged for the circulating collection.
Photographs created as a result of the work of University Relations will be collected on a continuing basis.
Special Collections and University Archives seeks donations of any materials relating to University’s history from students, faculty, staff, and other interested persons.

Other Holdings

The University Archives also contains official University publications such as yearbooks, handbooks, directories, and annual reports. Departmental and organizational papers include membership lists, newsletters, brochures, and programs. Student, faculty and alumni organizations’ papers include brochures, posters, photographs, newspapers and administrative materials. A scrapbook collection of newspaper clippings from 1930 to the present chronicles the university’s presence in the community.

Non-textual material is also included in the University Archives. An extensive photograph collection provides a fascinating panorama of the school’s history.  A poster collection colorfully documents the University environment in the 1970s through 1990s.  Audio documentation of the history of ODU is provided by an oral history collection featuring transcripts and tape recordings of interviews with members of the university community.

The collections may be used by present officers of the university, faculty, staff, students, alumni and the public. The University Archives is located within Special Collections in the Perry Library at Old Dominion University.

Researchers are urged to call ahead because permission from the University Counsel may be required to look through some of the material.  Only a portion of University Archives holdings are listed online. For more information call (757) 683-5350 or e-mail libspecialcollections@odu.edu.

Personal Papers of Faculty and Staff and the University Archives 

The wide variety of materials collected by the University Archives relating to the University and its people through the years includes official as well as unofficial records. The personal papers of faculty and staff are a valuable source in any effort to document the University.  Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between personal or professional papers and university records.  University records are governed by Commonwealth of Virginia, Library of Virginia and Old Dominion University policies. Retention and destruction schedules for university records are detailed in the Library of Virginia’s General Schedules available at http://www.lva.lib.va.us/whatwedo/records/sched_state/. For further information regarding the management of these files and records, contact Jessica Ritchie, the Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist (libspecialcollections@odu.edu 757 683-5350). 

Material the University Archives is interested in obtaining from faculty and staff: 

  • Syllabi
  • Personal and biographical material (including diaries, memoirs, correspondence, etc.) 
  • Speeches 
  • Final reports of research

Material the University Archives does not need from faculty and staff members: 

  • Financial records (detailed financial records, canceled checks, receipts) 
  • Other individuals’ personnel records (including search committee material) ; note that personnel records have very specific retention and destruction schedules according to the Library of Virginia’s General Schedules 103 
  • Reference material (articles, books, etc. written by other people) 
  • Duplicates and multiple copies of publications, course materials, class handouts. Generally only the original and heavily annotated copies are of value.
  • Research notes and data, bibliographic notes and  notes on reading
  • Records of students taught (grade books, class rosters, exams, term papers, etc.); note that student records have very specific retention and destruction schedules according to the Library of Virginia’s General Schedule 111 
  • Routine correspondence, especially non-personally addressed mail and routine letters of transmittal and acknowledgment 
  • Phone messages
  • Artifacts such as trophies and awards

Material should be transferred to the University Archives in the order in which it was maintained by its creator.  It is generally not necessary for collections to be “organized” by creators before they are transferred to the University Archives as the original order of a collection can also be of interest to future researchers. A letter briefly identifying the material and describing the activity to which they relate should accompany the transfer. 


Due to federal and state privacy laws, student records, personnel records, medical records, or other records or research material containing personally identifiable information require special handling and may be restricted.  In general, the University Archives does not retain such materials in personal papers. Such records should be segregated from other records, retained securely, and destroyed confidentially. Consult the Special Collections Librarian for further information. 

Donating and Transferring Your Papers to the University Archives

Faculty and staff are encouraged to donate their papers to the University Archives for the benefit of future researchers. The Special Collections Librarian can advise individuals in preparing their personal papers for transfer, completing a deed of gift, and arranging the physical transfer of the papers.

Further Information

This is intended as a general guide and because of broad variations in personal papers; it is advisable to consult with the Special Collections Librarian to determine how your own files relate to these guidelines. Exceptions often are made after a review of the conditions under which the documents were generated and their potential usefulness.  Please contact the Special Collections Librarian for further information (libspecialcollections@odu.edu 757 683-5350). 


June 16, 2008