What is a Deed of Gift?

The Dictionary Working Group of the Society of American Archivists keeps me abreast of archival vocabulary through their email service.  The latest installment is a term–Deed of Gift— I use and define for our patrons and donors on a weekly basis.  Click here for more and to subscribe.

SAA has a very nice brochure explaining Deeds of Gift. This paragraph, I think, is especially useful:

Donors of historical materials are individuals or organizations that give materials to repositories, including historical societies, archives, or special collections libraries. Donated materials often include papers, records, and digital material documenting personal lives and family history or the history of organizations such as businesses, community associations, and religious groups. Repositories are administered by professional archivists, curators, or librarians, who assemble these materials, preserve them, and make them available for research. The relationship between you—as a donor—and a repository must be based on a common understanding of your wishes and the ability of the repository to carry out its mission and responsibilities. You should review the materials being offered for donation with the archivist or curator and discuss the repository’s policies and procedures for the care and use of donated materials. Most repositories have a collecting policy that informs their decisions about what they can accept. If both parties agree that the repository is an appropriate place for preservation of the materials, then both parties sign a deed of gift.

We use deeds of gift for all incoming archival collections.  Archival collections are by nature unique and unpublished.  They are often wholly the product of the donor’s creative work, though sometimes they will contain items that were published or widely disseminated.  But by and large they are privately created.  For this reason we execute deeds of gift which govern the transfer of custody and ownership of the physical objects along with accompanying intellectual property rights. We do not use deeds of gift for donations of published materials such as books or periodicals.

Here is the sample deed of gift I give to prospective donors: Deed of Gift_SAMPLE

My basic assumption is that we will only add archival collections that directly relate to our central collecting foci.  Part of building an excellent archive in a chosen area is locating and saying ‘yes’ to the right kinds of collections.  The corollary is saying ‘no’ to the wrong kinds of collections.  Preserving the right kinds of collections is our core mission.  So if I am talking with donors about deeds of gift, I am already talking about collections of materials that are candidates for permanent preservation.  So, executing a deed of gift facilitates our work in preserving them permanently.  When we say ‘yes’ we are in it for the long haul: significant investment of several kinds of resources, and we will only do that for collections which we own.  To do otherwise is poor stewardship of our resources.  As I describe this for our donors, I like to stress that this small bit of paperwork facilitates access: it governs us as we receive collections, holds us accountable to preserve them, and enables us to make these valuable materials available for scholarly research.

Finding Aid Round Up

We’ve been busy writing finding aids for recent acquisitions and revising finding aids for sets of papers already in our holdings. You can browse all of our collections on DigitalCommons. See something below that piques your interest or could be useful for your research? Get in touch and let us know what you’re thinking about; we’d love to help!


Sabinal Christian College (Sabinal, TX) Records, 1905-1922, MS#358 [Revised Finding Aid] 
Sabinal Christian College was founded in 1907 one mile east of Sabinal, Texas, in Uvalde County by members of the Churches of Christ. The purpose of the school was to provide Bible teaching and religious training in addition to the usual literary curriculum. Courses included Bible, business administration, music, and speech, which were taught at primary, intermediate, high school, and college levels. The school reached a peak enrollment of 200 students and nine faculty members under the administration of Isaac E. Tackett (1909-1913). Other presidents of the school included G. H. P. Showalter, W. A. Schultz, J. Paul Slayden, and J. O. Garrett. The college received inadequate financial resources due to World War I, depression in the cotton market, and a drought that caused crop failures. The school closed on May 15, 1917. This collection includes correspondence, legal, and financial information about the history of Sabinal Christian College (Sabinal, TX).

Phil Boone Collection, 2010-2012, MS#408 [Revised Finding Aid]
Phil Boone graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1983 and served in various capacities at the university including as vice president of advancement and currently as a senior advisor and executive fundraiser for the ACU Advancement team. This collection contains photos from events Phil Boone was associated with at Abilene Christian University.

John Wright Papers, 1844-1847, MS#420 [Revised Finding Aid]
John Wright was an elder and minister of the Restoration Movement, commonly accredited leadership of the movement in Indiana. He was born on December 12th, 1785 and died on May 2nd, 1851. He married his first wife, Peggy Wolfescale, in 1803. She died in 1805 following the birth of their daughter. He later married Nancy Peeler who died August 29, 1844. This collection includes the personal diary of Wright and a personal letter sent to Wright by Nathan Field, and a 4th Edition of The Orthodox Preacher.

Sermon Charts Collection, circa 1930-1940, MS#434 [Revised Finding Aid]
This collection consists of three notebooks and twelve cloth sermon charts which are housed in one box.

Family Encampment at Red River Records, 1974-2015, MS#523 [New Finding Aid]
The Red River Family Encampment began in Red River, New Mexico in the summer of 1987 as the vision of Harold and Sally Paden. The Elders of the Southwest Church of Christ in Amarillo, Texas, assisted with the first summer of programming and Jerry C. Lawlis became the first executive director along with Paul Methvin.


Stay tuned for more installments of Finding Aid Round Ups!

Finding Aid Round Up

We’ve been busy writing finding aids for recent acquisitions and revising finding aids for sets of papers already in our holdings. You can browse all of our collections on DigitalCommons. See something below that piques your interest or could be useful for your research? Get in touch and let us know what you’re thinking about; we’d love to help!


Sidney Vaughn Papers, 1978-1995, MS#441 [Revised Finding Aid]
Sidney Vaughn attended the Kerrville Bible Training Work and is an active artist. These papers document his involvement with the Namikango Mission in Malawi. These papers include 35mm slides from the Namikango Mission in Malawi.

Barton Warren Stone Papers, 1833, MS#449 [Revised Finding Aid]
These papers include one handwritten sermon by Barton Warren Stone.

Steve Holt, Sr. Papers, 1973-2018, MS#462 [Revised Finding Aid]
This collection includes Steve Holt, Sr.’s files and materials for marriage and family counseling, and files concerning drama ministry and urban ministry.

Steve Holt, Sr. Papers, 1973-2018. Center for Restoration Studies MS #462. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Gary Joe Sorrells Papers, 1965-2017, MS#473 [Revised Finding Aid]
Gary Sorrells currently serves as Director Emeritus and as a member of the Board of Trustees for Great Cities Missions. These papers include correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and audio/visual materials documenting the life and work of Gary Joe Sorrells.

Gary Joe Sorrells Papers, 1965-2017. Center for Restoration Studies MS #473. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Churches of Christ Audio Collection, 1955-2007, MS#497 [New Finding Aid]
This accession combines three previous accessions into a single collection. R 2007.843; R 2009.191; and R 2010.098 (each containing one cu ft box) combined into a single collection. None of the accessions had any contextual information accompanying the recordings, nor provenance, nor unifying collector or entity responsible for them. It is likely that they comprise accumulated single item donations. Further, it is also likely that since they did not fit neatly into the recording activity of Jack Burford, that they did not properly belong with that collection. Box 1 (2007.843) contains 7 inch audio reels and one 5 inch reel; some are labeled and some are blank or unmarked. Names include: Randy Becton, Bill Banowski, Juan Monroy, Stanley Shipp, John Allen Chalk, Glenn Owens, Ken Mick and Bob Scott. Box 2 (2009.191) contains sermon and lecture tapes, many from Lubbock Christian University events, some pertaining to youth ministry. Box 3 (2010.098) contains unmarked cassette tapes, nine 5 inch audio reels, five reels in tin cases titled “Tales from the Great Book.”


Stay tuned for more installments of Finding Aid Round Ups!