Archives Collection Policy

The Pacific Lutheran University Archives documents the history, development, and operations of the University by acquiring, preserving, and making available the official records of administrators, departments, and offices, as well as materials donated by faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The University Archives also serves as a repository for Region I of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), which includes records that document the history, development, and operations of individual churches, clusters, and synods in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana. Additional collections of individuals and organizations are sought in areas of particular historical interest to the University, including Scandinavian immigration and the history of the Pacific Northwest.

The University Archives collects materials in a range of formats, including paper, audio-visual materials, electronic records, photographs, scrapbooks, books, and artifacts. The University Archives collections are open for use to all members of the PLU community, as well as interested scholars and researchers, unless stated otherwise by the Archivist in accordance with institutional policy or donor agreement. Parts or all of a collection may be restricted. Access to ELCA records is limited to those conducting legitimate research in matters dealing with the ELCA and antecedent church bodies.

Material is physically and digitally located separately from the main Mortvedt Library collections. Physical material cannot leave the Archives without explicit permission from the University Archivist, and it is subject to rules and regulations regarding use.

It is the responsibility of the University Archives to appraise, arrange, describe, and preserve materials that have been transferred to the Archives according to recognized archival principles.

The Pacific Lutheran University Archives staff works closely with donors to identify material appropriate for donation to the Archives and to determine which records will have continuing historic interest prior to their donation. Donors are encouraged to contact the Archives staff before sorting or rearranging the materials they wish to donate, as the importance of records can diminish if they are removed, reordered, or rearranged. Please note that our collection policy does not exclusively collect “old” things. If a record was created yesterday and fits our collection policy, it holds historical significance to the University Archives. Donations of ELCA records may be subject to a housing fee. Large and small donations are equally encouraged. 

The University Archives requests that materials not be mailed or dropped off at the Archives without first consulting Archives staff. In cases where the records are relatively local and in large quantities, the Archives staff may wish to see them before they are physically transferred. 

Ownership of the records is transferred when the donor signs a deed of gift. While the deed of gift is a standard document, it can be customized to suit the individual donor’s needs. In most cases, the Archives will not accept donations unless the ownership is transferred to Pacific Lutheran University. While the University Archives encourages full access to all of its collections, at times access to collections can be restricted for a set period of time. The Archives staff will discuss reasonable restrictions with the donor on access in accordance with the policies of the Pacific Lutheran University Archives.

Finally, donations of personal papers to the Pacific Lutheran University Archives may be eligible for tax deductions. Donors wishing to have more information on this matter should speak with either a tax consultant or an attorney. The University Archives staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of a record or collection.

To make a donation to the Pacific Lutheran University Archives, please contact by email at or by phone at (253) 535-7586.

It is the responsibility of the University Archives to maintain the collection. In instances where collection policies change or material is found to be inconsistent with the policies or redundant, the University Archives staff has the right to deaccess material. Deaccession, while rare, follows archival policies.