University Archives

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University Archives

The University Archives is the repository for the historical papers of Cal Poly’s administration, faculty and staff, colleges and departments, and students on campus. University Archives is a rich resource for historical research and supports current administrative needs. University Archives is part of the library’s Special Collections and Archives.


To find more information about university records open for research:

For more information about how to access the archives, please read more about schedule a research appointment and learn how to request reproductions.

Cal Poly’s History

See a timeline and learn more about Cal Poly’s history

Hands-On Learning

We provide thematic learning experiences for students using the University Archives. We customize instruction sessions, working directly with faculty to meet specific course objectives. Contact us to learn more about our instruction program.

Collection development

The Special Collections and Archives department collects archival and printed materials on the history, growth, and development of Cal Poly. This section provides more information, including other giving opportunities.

What comprises University Archives

Scope of the University Archives

  • Records of the administrative offices, academic departments, and governing bodies of the university, including minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports
  • University publications, general and special, including catalogs and bulletins, newsletters, press releases, and promotional material
  • Audio and visual material, including photographs and photo albums, negatives, transparencies, motion pictures, audiotape
  • Personal papers, including correspondence, diaries, memoirs, photographs, memorabilia and scrapbooks
  • Records of student organizations and activities, including minutes, correspondence, publications, ephemera, memorabilia and realia, including scrapbooks, posters, and brochures
  • Material from alumni and their organizations, including organizational records, publications and ephemera, when such materials are judged to reflect significant events and aspects of the university’s history
  • Architectural and landscaping plans, blueprints, and artists’ renderings, maps, master plans and other campus planning documents
  • Master copies of the microfiche of senior projects and master’s theses written by students at Cal Poly
  • Monographs written by Cal Poly faculty and administrators

Examples of Holdings

  • Presidential Papers/Speeches
  • Annual Reports
  • Cal Poly Master Plans
  • Athletics Records
  • Photographs
  • Student publications
Collection development details

Cal Poly Authors Policy Statement

The Special Collections and Archives department collects commercially published monographs written or compiled by members of the university’s faculty. These monographs are placed in the Cal Poly Authors Collection and become a part of University Archives. The purpose of this collection is to preserve a record of the scholarly endeavors of the faculty. Materials in this collection are available for use in the Special Collections and Archives department, for exhibitions or for temporary reassignment to the Reserve Room Collection at the discretion of Special Collections and Archives staff.

Faculty members who have published are encouraged to provide courtesy copies from their publishers to the Kennedy Library for this collection. Signed copies of faculty monographs are particularly prized.

Excluded from the collection are lab manuals, pamphlets, workbooks, self-published materials and multiple copies of the same title. New editions of older works that are substantially revised will be considered. Donations of such publications are accepted for inclusion in the collection. Second copies may be ordered at the author’s request.

Other faculty scholarly and creative work, including journal articles, conference proceedings, presentations, and other non-monographic scholarly work are located in the university’s institutional repository, DigitalCommons@CalPoly.

Requests to add new titles to this collection may be submitted to Collection Development for review with Special Collections and Archives. Titles that fit with this collection policy will be added and charged to the funding code for the relevant academic department.

Collecting Procedures

Special Collections and Archives staff are authorized to:

  • Develop collecting policies and documentation strategies that provide for the systematic management of the archival record of Cal Poly
  • Review all university records, prior to their disposal or destruction, for the purpose of selecting records for retention in the University Archives
  • Negotiate for the transfer of archival materials from their originating office to the University Archives
  • Identify collections and materials that are physically maintained outside the Library
  • Seal records which require confidential treatment as mandated by law or by conditions of transfer or gift
Interested in donating materials to University Archives?

What to Donate

University Archives collects both personal papers created by individuals and families, and records created by campus offices and organizations. Types of materials that we collect may include: photographs, audio recordings, letters, diaries, annual reports, newsletters, architectural drawings and plans, master plans, photographs, motion pictures, account books, deeds, meeting minutes and agendas, planning documents, scrapbooks, pamphlets, invitations, research files, and others.
The Special Collections and Archives department welcomes inquiries about potential donations to University Archives. Please contact us first before shipping any material. We will then work with you to determine the most appropriate disposition of the material and to complete the necessary paperwork. In some cases, Special Collections and Archives staff may wish to view any potential University Archives material before it is physically transferred to the department.
To transfer ownership of the archival materials to University Archives, we ask you to sign a University Archives Deed of Gift or Acknowledgement of Transfer form. The deed of gift includes a brief description of the material donated and can be customized to address the individual donor’s needs. The donation becomes official once it is reviewed and approved by Special Collections and Archives staff. The department generally does not accept University Archives materials on deposit or on loan.

Monetary Appraisals for Tax Deductions

You may be able to take a tax deduction for the donation of personal papers to University Archives at Cal Poly. However, Special Collections and Archives staff cannot provide monetary appraisals of your gifts. We can supply you with a list of professional appraisers, and we encourage you to discuss possible tax implications with your accountant and attorney.

To discuss the possible gift of archival material, contact University Archives at ude.yloplacnull@sevihcra or call 805-756-2305.

Preservation Basics

For more information check out the Northeast Document Conservation Center web site.

Acquisitions and Gifts

University Archives Gifts

Nearly all of our holdings are acquired through gift deed. The Special Collections and Archives Department welcomes referrals by Cal Poly faculty and staff as well as the public regarding potential collections for University Archives. All decisions relating to acceptance of collections and the terms of the gift remain with the Director of Special Collections and Archives, and may also be informed by resource allocation considerations. All collections must have a signed Deed of Gift or Acknowledgement of Transfer executed stipulating conditions relating to rights to the material, physical ownership, future care and other legal responsibilities.

Deaccession policy

Guidelines for the deaccession of materials.