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Gifts and Donations to Special Collections

Special Collections welcomes inquiries and expressions of interest from individuals, families, organizations, and businesses concerning donations of historical collections. This page will give you an overview of the types of material that may fit our collecting areas.

However, we encourage you to contact us to learn more, ask specific questions, and visit an overview of our collecting areas: manuscript collections, photograph collections, rare books and UTSA university archives

In short, Manuscripts collects in the areas of San Antonio and south Texas; San Antonio authors; University of Texas at San Antonio history, south Texas Hispanic political leaders; and women's volunteer associations. Rare Books emphasizes the history and development of the Texas-Mexico Border region, in particular the people, history, art, life and literature of San Antonio and South Texas.  Other collecting areas include Texana, Civil War (West of the Mississippi), Western and Southwestern Americana, Indians of the U.S. West, and Mexican history.  For a complete guidelines regarding the responsibilities of Special Collections to its donors, the conditions under which a donation may be accepted, and the types of material collected by Special Collections for the use of its patrons, please see our Manuscripts Acquisition Guidelines.

PLEASE do not ship material to us without first consulting the department; we must evaluate all material offered and ask the donor to sign a gift agreement form.

Two of the questions most frequently asked of us are "do you take everything?" and "how do you decide what to take?" As to the first question, the Special Collections are not able to accept everything offered; when appropriate, staff members will try to refer material to another logical repository. Some material, however, that may have substantial sentimental value to a family or an organization simply does not have sufficient historical value for a wide audience to make preservation in a repository practical. As for the second question, these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Many considerations enter into a decision about what material to acquire. A few of these considerations are: Is the information largely unique or does it roughly duplicate other holdings? Is the physical condition of the material such that it can be preserved within the resources of the repository? Is the collection coherent and mostly complete or merely fragments of what was originally a much more complete set of materials?

Material that is offered to--and accepted by--Special Collections is arranged, and cataloged into an international database, stored under archival conditions, and made available as research material to students, journalists, scholars, and members of the public. If you have materials related to these subjects that you are interested in donating to Special Collections, please call (210) 458-2228 or (210) 458-5505 or email

Monetary Appraisals for Tax Deductions

In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of a manuscript collection to a repository. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. Repository staff cannot give tax advice, nor are they permitted to appraise the monetary value of a collection. Special Collections staff may be able to provide you with a list of local manuscript appraisers who can (for a fee) make monetary appraisals for the donor. It is up to the donor to arrange for and bear the cost of any such appraisal. One place to start is with the American Society of Appraisers. Another is a list of appraisers and booksellers in San Antonio and Austin as well as Internet resources to assist potential donors.


For information on the types of materials archives are interested in acquiring, please see the following guides prepared by the Society of American Archivists: