Special Collections Gifts and Donations

Special Collections welcomes gifts of books, manuscripts, and other materials that are deemed to be within the scope of its collection. When we accept a donation, we are committing to preserving that gift in perpetuity, which requires physical space in our storage facility, quality archival enclosures and conservation work, and personnel time to re-house, describe, and, often, digitize the material. If the materials are digitized, additional costs are encountered for digital storage and maintenance of digital surrogates in our digital preservation environment. Due to limited staffing, budget, and space, all donations or gifts are subject to review by the Director of Special Collections or Dean of the Library and may be declined if they fail to meet the requirements of our Collection Development policy. Once donated, Special Collections safeguards the material according to professional standards, ensuring equitable access for generations to come.

Special Collections does not collect materials outside the scope of our Collection Development policy, including the following:

  • Materials that are irreparably damaged or infested by insects or mold.
  • Materials in which the donor's ownership is in question or disputed.
  • Duplicate materials.
  • Partial collections.
  • Facsimiles (photocopies or scans) of materials from another repository or in private collections.
  • Materials for which we are unable to provide sufficient support to preserve and provide access.
  • Permanent loans or deposits.

If we cannot accept a gift or donation of material, we may offer to help you find a more appropriate home for your contribution. Finding the right repository for your material is always to the benefit of the materials and their creators. Our researchers are mostly comprised of members of the community and students who are studying Chattanooga's cultural heritage. We try to find those repositories that are best equipped to highlight, preserve, and curate collections we are unable to accept.

Make a Gift

To avoid misunderstandings, we ask that all prospective donors consult with the appropriate staff members before making arrangements to have gifts sent or delivered to Special Collections. If you have a special donation situation or questions, please email archives@utc.eduGifts accepted are subject to the policies of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with the understanding that the university becomes the owner of the material upon its receipt and reserves the right to determine retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations relating to use or disposition.

Provided that the donor is the copyright holder, he or she may also transfer the rights to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. When rights are transferred, the Special Collections can provide the greatest amount of public access to the material. Special Collections may reproduce the holdings for access and preservation purposes without restriction.

View our Deed of Gift and Explanation to learn more about the transfer of title and copyright to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

If you are interested in contributing an oral history to Special Collections, please review visit Conduct an Oral History Interview for more information.


Please note that in accordance with Internal Revenue Service regulations, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is prohibited from appraising or estimating the value of any gift. Donors who require an appraisal need to make arrangements to do so with an independent appraiser and pay for that service themselves. Acceptance of a gift at an appraised value does not necessarily constitute endorsement of said valuation.

To find an appraiser, consider searching the International Society of Appraisers Member Directory.


The donor will receive an acknowledgment response from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga upon receipt of the gift.

Abandoned Gifts

Special Collections handles “abandoned” gifts (i.e. unsolicited deposits left without any indication of the donor’s name, contact information, and/or affiliation) in accordance with the repository's Collection Development policy. Once physically transferred to Special Collections, the depositor transfers full, free and unencumbered title to the property.