Archives (3rd Floor)

Archives is the official repository for all records of the university that have enduring historical, administrative, or community significance. The Archives Collection includes: printed volumes, manuscripts, and photographs, prints, and other visual media. The Rare Book Collections consist of works by 20th-century authors. It also includes records of the founding and growth of the university as well as an extensive collection documenting regional history.

  • Publications
  • Digital Online Collections
  • Guidelines for Researchers
  • Rare Items
  • Donation of Materials
  • Staff
  • Hours

In order to guarantee that future students and scholars have access to the rich publication tradition of the Southern University and its history, the university archives acquires and preserves permanent record copies of Southern University publications. As with current practices for other archival records, all publications are non-circulating and must be used during the normal reading room hours in the Archives Department.

Digital Online Collections

Archives Online – A compilation database that brings together historical materials from the Archives Department in a variety of formats including: documents, letters, and photographs.Please note students will be required to login. Please contact the Archives department or Reference Departments for the UserName and Password.

Harpers Weekly Journal and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper - Harper's Weekly, a new era in American journalism dawned in the 1850s with the advent of magazines and newspapers that combined general-interest content, and lavish illustrations. Its context of escalating sectional animosity over slavery inhibited the newspapers coverage and undermined the potentially unifying character of a nationwide audience.

HBCU Library Alliance - A Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of Southern University and A&M College. It is the first gateway to major historical and illustrative resources about the institution. Photographs, manuscripts, event programs, and a plethora of other documents can be found on this site.

Verla Birrell Textiles and Designs - Verla Birrell was born on November 24, 1903 in Tacoma, Washington to James Walter and Elfie Naylor Birrell. Birrell taught art, design, textiles, and related subjects at junior highs, high schools, BYU 1937-48 and the University of Utah 1948-72. She traveled extensively, was engaged in archaeological research. She was a member of the American Anthropological Association, Society for American Archaeology, National League of American Pen Women, Omnicron Nu, Associated Utah Artists, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Beta Theta, Readers Guild, Alice Louise Reynolds Club, and Acanthus Club.

Louisiana Digital Library - The LOUISiana Digital Library (LDL) is an online library containing photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, oral histories, and more that document Louisiana's history and culture. Libraries, museums, archives, historical groups, and other institutions across the State contribute materials to the LDL. This state-wide digital library is used by anyone with access to the internet and an interest in the materials.

A Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of the Historically Black College and University - A collection of primary resources from HBCU libraries and archives. The collection includes photographs, university correspondence, manuscripts, images of campus buildings, alumni letters, memorabilia, and programs from campus events.

Southern University History Online - A Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of Southern University and A&M College. It is the first gateway to major historical and illustrative resources about the institution. Photographs, manuscripts, event programs, and a plethora of other documents can be found on this site.


A great number of the materials we preserve in Archives are unique. Most of our holdings are germane to the Southern University System.  There are a few of our collections that do not pertain to Southern University as a whole but, exist here and nowhere else. This means that if materials are lost or damaged, they can never be replaced.

We hope our guidelines will help us preserve these rare materials for use by everyone now and in the future.

Original records must be returned to the reference staff of the archives department no later than 15 minutes prior to closing.  All patrons must have removed their belongings from the reading room and have exited by 5:00 p.m.

Patrons must be 17 years of age or be accompanied by a responsible adult researcher.  Visitors must register with the archivist and wear an identification badge while they are in the area.  Smoking, eating and drinking is prohibited in the Archives Department.

Enclosed containers
Felt pens/felt tips and other pens
Fountain pens
Light wraps [shawls, sweaters]
Note cards
Cell Phones
Cameras/Video Recorders
Please check with the Archivist

The items listed above which are NOT allowed in the Archives are because they interfere with the prolonged and usable life of the archives and its collections; as well as the stabilization, protection and re-treatment of documents.

Researchers must handle all records carefully and must not mark, fold, tear or otherwise harm the records in any way.  Any damage found in materials issued should be reported to staff immediately.

Researchers must not rearrange or interfere in any way with the order of archival materials.

Only one box or folder at a time will be issued to each researcher.  Researchers must return materials to the archivist as soon as they have finished using them.

Keep documents flat on the table. When reading documents, leave them flat on the table, in their file folders, and in the order in which you found them. Do not hold documents while reading them, remove them from their file folders, or change the order of documents within the file folders. Please be particularly careful not to lean on, write on, or place any objects, such as writing paper or note cards, on top of the documents.

Researchers are requested not to re-shelve books and other materials.  Please place books on the carts provided for that purpose.

Under no circumstances are archival materials to be removed from the research area.
Materials housed in the Archives department are open to all who desire to visit.  When requesting materials from the collections for the first time, patrons are required to leave a photo-identification with the archives staff. Do not forget to retrieve your identification when you leave. We are not responsible for identification left in our department.

Researchers must respect the research room conventions of courtesy and, where possible, silence.  Equipment such as tape recorders, video cameras and digital cameras are not allowed in the archives. Laptop computers may be used only with express permission of the archivist.

The damage from photocopying is cumulative and irreparable.  Because of this, photocopying special collections materials is never customary, but should instead be reserved for special situations.  [Therefore, we are asking researchers to please make a good faith effort to take notes before requesting photocopies].

Researchers must follow all instructions given by Archives regarding the handling of rare materials. Many are unique, and many are fragile. Please note carefully the following:

  • Researchers are asked to handle rare materials with the utmost care, and must use any supporting apparatus, such as a cradle, as instructed by the Archivist. In most cases, rare books should not be laid flat on the worktable, but must be placed in a cradle for support. Books may not be placed in the lap or in any other position off the table and cradle. Do not lean on any book.

  • Researchers should handle pages by their edges to avoid bending or soiling, and are requested to wear cotton gloves, which are provided by the Archives

  • Do not hold the books open with any weight or other apparatus.

  • Do not write or make marks in any book, or fold the pages of any book or document.

  • Notes must be taken on paper laid on the table, not laid on the book. No tracings or rubbings may be made of any pages or binding of any book or document.

  • Should you find any unopened pages (pages which have not been cut), please bring the document or book to the Archivist and do not attempt to cut the pages yourself.

Should you need to photocopy any pages, please contact the Archivist, who will determine whether the material may be photocopied. In some cases, rare materials may be too fragile to photocopy, and the request will be denied. The Archivist or other staff person will photocopy the materials for you.

The researcher is responsible for obtaining permission to publish material from the Archives Department if applicable, and for compliance with all laws relating to copyright and defamation which may pertain to their use of the materials.

The Archives and Manuscript Department depends upon the generosity of friends, donors, and alumni to support our many collections and programs. We welcome gifts of materials as well as financial support.
What to Donate
The Archivists works closely with donors to identify those materials of research interest which should be preserved. Although not all papers and records fall within the collecting scope of the department, the types of materials listed below are often valuable. These lists are suggestive but not definitive.
Personal and Family
Personal and family documents include: letters, diaries, speeches, lectures, albums, scrapbooks, memoirs, reminiscences, photographs, professional files, genealogical information, films, videotapes and audiotapes.
Organizational Records

Articles of incorporation/constitution/bylaws, correspondence, planning documents, architectural records, legal documents, diaries, minutes of meetings, reports, memoranda, newsletters and other publications, directories, financial documents, press releases, membership records, and research and subject files.

Because the research value of papers and records may be diminished if items are removed or rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact the staff of Manuscripts and Archives division before discarding or rearranging materials.

Transfer of Materials

After working with donors to identify materials appropriate for preservation, archives staff will make arrangements to have the papers or records transported to the Archives Department/John B. Cade Library. Legal transfer of the materials from the donor to Manuscripts and Archives occurs when the donor reviews and signs a gift agreement formally making a gift of the collection to the library. Manuscripts and Archives can only invest materials and labor in the care of collections, which it owns. The department generally does not accept materials on deposit or on loan.

Restrications of Access
Sensitive material may, at times, be found within collections. Manuscripts and Archives staff will discuss with a donor the possibility of restricting parts of a collection to protect the privacy of the donor or of others. Although desiring to make all papers and records freely accessible to researchers, the department will normally agree to reasonable and equitable restrictions for limited periods of time.
Copyright generally belongs to the creator of writings and other original material (such as photographs and music), and can be legally transferred. To enable scholars to quote readily from collections, the department encourages donors to transfer any copyright, which they possess in the donated papers to John B. Cade Library – Southern University and A&M College.
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 Manuscripts and Archives. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. By law, Manuscripts and Archives staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of a collection. They are able to provide donors with a list of manuscript appraisers, but it is the donor's responsibility to arrange for and bear the cost of any appraisal.
Care of the Collections

To provide research access, collections are arranged and described by experienced, professional archivists. They prepare descriptive guides and inventories, which are used by researchers to select materials to study.

Collections may contain materials that have physically deteriorated and are in need of treatment to ensure their long-term preservation.

Providing physical and intellectual control of valuable collections is expensive. Donors who are able to do so are encouraged to provide financial support for the arrangement, description, and preservation of their papers or records.

For Further Information

To discuss donating a collection of personal papers or organizational records to Manuscripts and Archives, please contact Angela Proctor at [225] 771-2854 or by email at

For local mailing address, send all correspondences to:

Archives or Manuscript Division
John B. Cade Library
Southern University and A&M College
167 Roosevelt Steptoe Avenue
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70813-0001

Angela Proctor

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM



Holiday, Summer, and intercession hours will be posted in the library at the appropriate time.