Course:2: Acquiring Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 2: Writing A Collection Policy
Topic:Element Three


Element 3:
Describe in More Detail the Types of Historical Materials Collected and the Program's Topics and Areas of Emphasis

This description should include the subjects, people, timeframes, and geographic regions your program focuses on. You should also describe the types of materials your organization collects, such as records, manuscripts, photographs, and maps.

Some collection policies include this information in the statement of purpose section. Others include more specific collecting information as a separate section of the policy. Whichever method you choose, be sure that your description is specific enough to guide selection decisions. 

Most often, a program focuses on one or more subjects or themes--people, events, geographic areas, and so forth. The area of collecting focus for your program should relate to your audience. What subjects are they interested in? What types of collections are they interested in? 

You should also consider what nearby or related programs collect. Try to avoid overlapping or duplicating collections. This will avoid competition for materials and will ensure that a broader historical record is maintained in an organized and complementary way.

Erie Canal drawing
This drawing of the Erie Canal would be appropriate for some collections but not for others.

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The organizations above specialize by topic, event, and geographic location.