Collection Development Policy

This policy is a planning tool to guide the department’s staff in making informed decisions on potential accessions and deaccessions. The collections development policy is an essential component of the appraisal process through which materials are added to the collection. The guidelines this policy provides ensures an appropriate balance between the department’s resources and its commitments.

Academy Archives

As part of its mission, the Archives is charged with the collection and preservation of Phillips Academy records possessing permanent historical value.

The decision to select and preserve records of historical value is the responsibility of the Director of Archives & Special Collections. The purpose of collecting such records is to provide documentation of the development and growth of the Academy particularly of its academic programs and courses of instruction, academic departments and committees, administrators and administrative offices, the activities of its student body and alumni, and the development of its physical plant and grounds.

Recorded information documenting the above activities is collected regardless of format and includes administrative papers and files, letter books, financial ledgers, notebook, pictorial materials, sound recordings, digital files, printed material, maps, motion picture film and video tape, ephemera, and artifacts.

Special Collections

The Archives & Special Collections of Phillips Academy also serves as the repository for special collections materials (rare books, maps, and manuscripts) in Oliver Wendell Holmes Library and supports research by a wide range of patrons including students, faculty, and other scholars whose work relies on primary resource materials. There is a separate collection development policy for the Map Collection. Special Collections maintains materials acquired by the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library that are deemed rare and/or difficult to replace due to their value, age, condition, format, or subject matter. This collection includes the Library of 1819 (including books owned by Samuel and/or John Phillips), Forbes Virgil Collection, classics (including incunabula), and Bromfield School Collection. Also of note is a collection of 19th-century Andover imprints and books published by Warren Draper (for Andover Theological Seminary).

The collecting mission of Archives & Special Collections is twofold:

  1. To preserve the official records of administrators and administrative offices; academic programs and courses of instruction; and academic departments and committees, insofar as they have permanent historical value.
  1. To acquire, preserve, and provide access to a wide range of primary research materials in their original formats including administrative records, books, manuscripts, audio-visual materials, antiquarian maps, objects, realia, and other items in support of the educational and research activities of its various constituencies.

Our mission to acquire and preserve materials is coupled with a commitment to outreach and access. Materials are described according to national standards established by the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists.  We are committed to digitizing collection materials and making them freely available online. We regularly host classroom instruction sessions in the Archives. Whenever possible, we seek to collaborate with faculty and students to incorporate Archives & Special Collections materials into the curriculum.


In terms of general criteria, Archives & Special Collections collects in areas that:

Extend the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library’s research strengths, interests, and needs in a logical and rational manner.

  • Support the existing collections.
  • Support Phillips Academy’s curriculum and the research interests of its students and faculty.
  • Anticipate future research needs.
  • Show a high ratio of use to volume and processing costs.
  • Complement rather than compete with the collecting priorities of other regional special collections repositories.

Phillips Academy Records and Historical Materials

Areas of Focus:

From its founding in 1778, Phillips Academy has played a unique role in the history of education in the United States. In addition to serving as the official repository for Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy records of enduring value, Archives & Special Collections also seeks to thoroughly document the history of student life and activities, the evolution of the curriculum, and, in some cases, the activities of alumni. Areas of particular strength include documentation of the fraternity system, the early years of the Philomathean Society, the development of Andover athletics, and the debate over co-education. In addition to serving historians of the Academy, we aim to support the work of scholars of education in America more generally. Academy history materials in the archives richly document Andover’s founding, its major milestones, the development of the curriculum, and many aspects of student life.  However, we will always seek to add new materials of high informational, evidential, or intrinsic value.  We actively acquire student correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, photograph albums and ephemera from any period as well as audio or motion picture recordings.  We seek objects of various kinds insofar as they document student life.  We selectively acquire students’ course notebooks especially those from the 19th century.  Because our coverage in most Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy publications is strong, we now generally accept only those issues or titles that fill in known gaps.   We selectively acquire faculty papers if they demonstrate exceptional scholarly, teaching, and administrative activity while a member of the Andover faculty.  We collect books by alumni authors. Other topical areas of especially strong interest currently are: student activism; student diversity with regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, etc.


The Archives & Special Collections department evaluates donations and purchase using the following criteria: appropriateness of the subject matter; current and future research value; aesthetic quality; physical condition; size of collection (due to finite amount of space), and ownership and copyright restrictions or limitations. We rarely accept materials that come with significant restrictions or display requirements. When possible, if we reject a donation offer, staff will attempt to help the donor find a home for the collection.

Types of Materials

Archives & Special Collections collects archives (administrative records in all formats including born digital), books, journals, newspapers, yearbooks, annuals, manuscripts, ephemeral materials, film, video, and a variety of other original materials. Emphasis is placed on acquiring items in their original states. Items designated as “fine art” may be transferred to the Art and Antiques Collection or the Addison Gallery.

Physical Condition of Acquisitions

Because the Archives & Special Collections has limited preservation or conservation resources, it is vital that we only acquire materials in the best possible physical condition. Exceptions may be made in instances where the scarcity of an item in any condition warrants accepting a less-than-perfect specimen. In general, the costs involved in repairing and storing damaged materials are beyond the limited means of our budget, so we may decline imperfect copies.

Duplicate copies

Given the limitations on storage space for our collections, we cannot accept duplicate copies of items already held in the Archives & Special Collections. Exceptions may be made in instances where a second copy has unique features, but the general rule is against adding redundant copies of published works. In the case of Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy publications and ephemera, we retain a limited number of copies of each item and are generally not interested in acquiring additional copies of yearbooks, alumni magazines, courses of study etc.

Other Resources

Because of its location within the Merrimack Valley and greater Boston area, the Archives & Special Collections is complemented by nearby collections of rare materials and primary sources. Included among these other collections are Phillips Exeter Academy, Memorial Hall Library, Andover Historical Society, Andover Theological Seminary, and various Harvard University repositories. Our goal is to develop our collections in such a way that we do not duplicate holdings of nearby institutions or enter into direct competition with them for collections and resources.

Policy review and de-accession

The Collection Development Policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure that it reflects the Academy’s collecting needs. If at any time donated material is deemed outside the scope of the Archives & Special Collections collecting plan or otherwise unsuitable for the collections, it will be considered for de-accession. The Archives & Special Collections staff will normally consider several options for de-accession: return of the material to the donor, return of the material to the donor’s family, donation of the material to another Phillips Academy office, donation of the material to another repository, or destruction of the material.


Oliver Wendell Holmes Library || Phillips Academy