New Jersey Manuscripts Collection Development Policy

Statement of purpose of the institution and/or collection 

We collect rare, unique, and specialized materials in a wide range of fields and formats that document the social, political, and cultural history of New Jersey. The collection supports the research and informational needs of Rutgers University and the people of New Jersey, as well as those of the broader communities of international scholars and researchers.  

Types of programs supported by the collection 

  • Curriculum 
  • Research 
  • Exhibits 
  • Community outreach 

Clientele served by the collection 

University community, including undergraduate and graduate students, administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families; scholars in disciplines including History, Political Science and the subjects taught at Rutgers; institutions of New Jersey and members of the general public with a research need for the manuscripts we hold.    

Priorities and limitations of the collection 

Present identified strengths  

The New Jersey Manuscripts Collection consists of over 2,200 distinct collections containing more than 8 million items of historical and primary source material about New Jersey. 

Present identified weaknesses 

There is a limited amount of material that is born-digital. We are working towards more fully documenting NJ's diverse populations and communities across our collecting areas. 

Desired level of collection to meet program needs and collecting guidelines 


Geographic areas collected 

New Jersey 

Chronological periods collected 

1600-present, with focus on 1800 to the present.  

Subject areas collected  

Political, social, cultural life of New Jersey including business, labor, medicine, technology, women’s history, social welfare and social policy, and family history. 

Languages collected 

English language materials extensively.  Other languages, particularly Dutch, are collected selectively. 

Forms of materials collected  

Primary sources in a variety of formats, including but not limited to: records, reports, correspondence, maps, audiovisual materials, periodicals, photographs, blueprints, manuscripts, books, and realia. 
Electronic records have become a particular interest with the increasing number of born-digital records.  

Books furthering the study of New Jersey history are placed in the Sinclair New Jersey Collection.  Occasionally, books are retained and cataloged in other library collections, such as Rare Books.   


Materials whose primary focus is unrelated to the New Jersey will not be included in this collection.   

The Special Collections and University Archives will not accept materials without legal transfer of title through a deed of gift, transfer of records form, or other official acknowledgement.  

Gifts that pose major preservation hazards (e.g., mold, insect infestation, dampness, etc.); that come with special conditions and constraints it cannot honor; or require extensive processing or treatment. 

The following types of records do not typically merit permanent retention in the manuscript collections:  

  • routine bills (i.e., utility bills), 

  • employee timesheets, 

  • payroll records, 

  • duplicate material beyond our standard maximums, 

  • blank forms and unused printed materials such as letterhead, 

  • student records subject to FERPA, and  

  • patient records subject to HIPAA 


The Rutgers University Libraries are committed to providing open access to its holdings in accordance with guidelines set forth by the American Libraries Association and the Society of American Archivists.  Parts of collections may be restricted for reasons of confidentiality. The Special Collections and University Archives will not accept materials that are closed to the public in perpetuity. All restricted material will be designated with an opening date prior to the donation/transfer acceptance. Unprocessed collections may be inaccessible.