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Library Services: MSUM Archives

Archives Overview


University Archives and Northwest Minnesota Historical Center


 The objective of the University Archives is to preserve the significant historical and administrative records of Minnesota State University Moorhead.  The objective of the Northwest Minnesota Historical Center (NMHC) is to preserve significant historical and cultural records of the twelve county region of northwest Minnesota.  Policies and procedures for the Archives and NMHC are established to permit patrons maximum access to the information contained in these collections, while preserving the contents of these records and conforming to privacy legislation. 


 To carry out these objectives, the following rules are established:


 A.         Hours for access to the Archives and NMHC will be established based on available staffing and will be posted.  Patrons can make special arrangements by contacting the archivist to do research at the Archives and NMHC at other times that those posted.  Under certain conditions, some records and collections may also be borrowed for a specified period by patrons or by other institutions.


B.         Some records in the Archives and the NMHC have restricted access due to the conditions of the materials, the wishes of the donors of the material, or regulations of Minnesota State University Moorhead.  Patrons can learn which materials in the NMHC collections are restricted by consulting the Guide to the Collections on the NMHC’s website.  Some restrictions on access to University records exist to protect privacy.  Patrons  should consult with the archivist concerning these restrictions.


C.         Patrons will be responsible for abiding by the provisions of state and Federal copyright, public information, and privacy legislation when quoting from documents in the above collections or when publishing, displaying, or otherwise using copies of such documents.  Patrons are also required to appropriately cite the collections, the repository, and Minnesota State University Moorhead when making use of such documents.




Additional rules and procedures for the Archives and NMHC are made by the Archivist in consultation with the Director and library faculty,  consistent with the above rules and the mission statements of Livingston Lord Library and Minnesota State University Moorhead.


Archives Collection Development Policy

The MSUM Archives Collection Development Policy


The Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) Archives is comprised of two repositories: the University Archives and the Northwest Minnesota Historical Center. The University Archives created in 1978 is the official repository of MSUM that documents the history of the University and the people affiliated with it. The records span from the founding of the Moorhead Normal School in 1887 to the present.

The Northwest Minnesota Historical Center (NMHC) was established in 1972 by the Minnesota Historical Society in conjunction with the University’s History Department as a regional research repository to collect and preserve the history of twelve county regions of northwest Minnesota. Presently, the NMHC is operated and administered by Minnesota State University Moorhead. The NMHC contains manuscripts, oral history interviews, photographs, and family histories dating as far back to the 1860s.


The mission of the MSUM Archives is to appraise, collect, organize, describe, and preserve documentation of the history of Minnesota State University Moorhead and northwest Minnesota; to provide reference assistance to MSUM administrators, faculty and staff, students, alumni, and off-campus researchers; and to make collections visible through finding aids, webpages, exhibits, and social media.



The MSUM Archives geographic areas consist of the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead as well as twelve Minnesota counties: Becker, Clay, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, and Wilkin.

Subject Areas

The MSUM Archives seeks to support historical research and teaching needs of the MSUM community, scholars, and the general public. The areas described below are of past and ongoing collection development efforts.

The History of Minnesota State University Moorhead

As the official repository for MSUM, the University Archives also seeks to document the internal life and culture of the University community. Materials collected include: records of Academic and Administrative Affairs (legal documents, policy statements, self-studies, reports, minutes, correspondence, calendars and class schedules, research projects); of departments (minutes, reports, syllabi, faculty vitae, faculty papers); of academic, honorary, service, and social organizations of students, faculty, and administration; of  university, departmental, and student publications, newsletters, and booklets; of athletics; of the Moorhead Campus School; and memorabilia.

The History of Agriculture

The NMHC contains records of crop promotion organizations like the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association; records of individual farms such as the Henry Farm Records; and diaries, papers, and oral history interviews of farmers living in northwest Minnesota like the Belle Northrup Diaries.

The History of Business

The NMHC contains records of companies, stores, and banks such as the Farimont Foods Inc. Records and papers and oral history interviews of businessmen and businesswomen from northwest Minnesota such as the Leon Simon Papers.

The History of Early Settlement

The NMHC contains diaries and papers of well-known pioneers such as the Solomon G. Comstock Papers and the Randolph Probstfield Papers; of settlers like the Benjamin Franklin and Henry Clinton Mackall Papers; and of immigrants including the Mikkell Mellum Papers and the Levi Thortvedt Papers.

The History of Politics and Government

The NMHC contains papers and oral history interviews of several Minnesota state representatives and senators including the Keith Langseth Papers and records of political parties like the Clay County Democratic Famer Labor Party Records and the Pennington County Republican Party Records.

The History of Religion and Religious Organizations

The NMHC contains the records and oral history interviews of religious organizations such as Churches United for the Homeless Records; of religious groups like the Catholic Daughters of

America: Court St. Mary’s Records; and of various northwest Minnesota churches including First Congregational Church, Detroit Lakes Records, Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Clay and Becker Counties Records, and St. Joseph Catholic Church, Moorhead Records.

The History of Women’s Organizations

The NMHC contains records of several chapters of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union; women’s political organizations like the Moorhead Republican Women’s Club; local chapters of the National Organization of Women like the Agassiz Chapter; and clubs such as The Moorhead Federated Women’s Club.

The History of World War II

The NMHC contains oral history interviews discussing experiences on the home front such as rationing, air raid shelters, the use of German prisoners of war, and the war effort as well experiences in military service such as the draft, training, fighting overseas, and war refugees. Other collections include a World War II scrapbook and wartime literature.


The MSUM Archives contains and collections the following types and formats: print materials (documents, papers, and records), photographs, film, electronic files, sound recordings, and memorabilia.


The following is a list of excluded materials for the Archives:

  • Art
  • Blank forms or stationery
  • Clothing
  • Duplicates
  • Materials in poor condition showing evidence of mold, pests, or embrittlement
  • Student records or information protected by FERPA
  • Non-MSUM records or materials
  • Documents that do not have long term value
    • Letters of transmittal
    • Work orders
    • Confirmations
    • Reservations
    • Itineraries
    • Purchase orders and receipts
    • Routine correspondences such as requests and acknowledgments


Acquiring Materials


The MSUM Archives will only accept donations of materials that fit the subject scope of the collections. The University Archivist has the right to decline donations and discard unwanted items. All donations must be documented by filling out and signing a Transfer Form, which transfers the rights of ownership to the MSUM Archives.

Transfer of Records

Custodial transfer is the means by which most university records and documents are acquired by the University Archives. This means legal custody has transferred from an office or department to the Archives.


The final disposition of official University records without continuing value will be established by the records retention and disposition schedules once the records management policy has been updated and reviewed.

The University Archivist will periodically review all acquisitions to determine whether or not they should remain within the Northwest Minnesota Historical Center. If determined that a collection warrants deaccessioning, the Archives Supervisor will make every effort to return the material to the donor or transfer the material and ownership to another repository as indicated in the Deed of Gift.

Cooperative Agreement

The MSUM Archives will not collect materials that are already comprehensively covered by another archival institution. The Archives will refer potential donors with collections that do not fit within the guidelines of this collection policy to another repository. 

Implementation and Revision

This policy has been reviewed by the Livingston Lord Library Faculty on September 6, 2019.

It will be reviewed frequently and updated as needed.

Archives Research Area Rules

MSUM Archives Research Area Rules

  1. Please sign in on the visitors’ log every visit. A researcher registration form must be filled out during the first visit, and updated annually.
  2. No food or beverages are allowed in the research area. There are water fountains in the hallway. No chewing gum is allowed.
  3. Place coats on coat rack and your backpack, purse, or bag in the designated area behind the archives technician’s desk.
  4. Laptops and other portable devices, notebooks, and pencils are allowed for note taking. Absolutely no pens.
  5. In order to preserve archive materials and to keep them in their proper order:

Have only one box open at a time.

Remove one folder at a time using the placeholder marker.

Do not mix up materials within each folder.

Do not take notes on top of materials, or rest elbows/arms on materials.

Handle everything with extreme care.

  1. No materials may be removed from the Research Area.
  2. Do not touch photographs with your hands, please ask for gloves.
  3. All photocopies must be done by a staff member. The MSUM Archives reserves the right to refuse photocopying requests.
  4. Pictures may be taken by a camera, phone, or tablet.
  5. Permission much be obtained in writing before any materials from the collections may be published. In giving permission to publish, the MSUM Archives does not surrender its own rights. The researcher assumes ultimate responsibility for the use of the materials and for the infringement of copyright or the publication rights of the materials.
  6. Use of materials may be restricted by donor request, if in poor condition, to protect privacy and confidentiality, or if unprocessed.
  7. Do not pull boxes from shelves. Please ask for assistance.

Approved, 9/6/2019

Archives Lending Policy

MSUM Archives Lending Policy

In general, collections from the University Archives and Northwest Minnesota Historical Center do not leave the archives room. Materials are removed from the room for the following exceptions:

  • Materials may be placed in secure display cases within the library or other campus buildings under the direction and permission of the University Archivist.
  • Materials may be brought to events and displayed as long as a staff member of the Archives is present at all time.
  • Materials may be removed from the room by an Archives staff member for photo copying purposes.
  • Materials may be lent to the University of North Dakota Archives and Elwyn B. Robinson Special Collections, State Historical Society of North Dakota Archives, or North Dakota State University Archives under the provisions of a cooperative lending agreement. Materials will be delivered to one of these locations only by a staff member, or a staff member of one of the other archives.
  • Materials may be sent out for professional conservation treatment or digitization under the direction of the University Archivist

Approved, 9/6/2019