The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
ASCSA
Patriarch Ioachim Street, Kolonaki, Athens in 1932. From the Dorothy Burr Thompson Collection.

Collection Policy

Archives in the Blegen Library

The proposed collection policy, which was first presented in 1999 and is based on an analysis of the current holdings of the School’s Archives provides an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the repository.

Scope of the Collection

An analysis of the mission statement of the School suggests that the School’s Archives should collect records related to teaching, research, governance and funding of the School, student’s life, and promotion of Greek culture.

Teaching

  • Records related to recruiting, selecting, and admitting students (records of admission committees, marketing campaign, and applications of students)
  • Records related to the financial aid of the students (establishment of fellowships, published lists of annual recipients)
  • Records related to advising (e.g., notes of the Mellon Professor)
  • Curriculum planning (who teaches, what is taught and how things are taught)
  • Documentation of learning (e.g., School papers)
  • Evaluations

Research

  • Records of excavations financed or published by the American School
  • Personal papers of scholars associated with the School

To help avoid competition and endorse inter-institutional cooperation the following principles should be followed:

  • Excavation records primarily financed by an educational institution of another organization with its own archives should not be collected.
  • Excavation records financed by an educational institution or other organization without its own archives may be accepted on the condition that the director of the excavation undertakes to defray the cost of processing and preservation.
  • Segments of a collection already in archival custody elsewhere may not be collected (unless a clear need arises such as damage or loss of said collection).

Governance and funding

  • records related to the legal environment in which the School operates both in Greece and the States.
  • records related to the governance of the School . - minutes of the Board of Trustees. - correspondence between senior officials and board members. - minutes of the Managing Committee. - minutes of other committees, including ad hoc committees. - formulation of policies and procedures. - selection of staff.
  • financial records - sources of revenue (endowment, fees, grants, gifts, etc.) - reports of the president with information on the rise or fall of the endowment, the rate of return on investments, and the changing value of each fund. - budget (documents relating to budget preparation, negotiation, and approval) - general ledger. - chart of accounts. - annual report of the treasurer (balance sheets, statements on the revenues, summary of gifts, summary of investments) - external auditor’s annual report.
  • personnel - published manuals and handbooks for personnel policies and practices. - job descriptions (they provide information on the changing skills) - records of search committees.
  • physical plant - records to track the life cycle of the School (planning, building, using, maintaining, renovating etc.)

Student Life

  • records that can provide insights into the student’s experience (personal journals, photos, videos, etc)

Promotion of Greek Culture

  • Lectures and conferences
  • Exhibits

Conditions of Acceptance

  • A deed of gift should always be signed between the donor and the Archives
  • The deed should specify what actions will be taken regarding unwanted material (e.g., destroyed or returned to the donor).
  • With respect to personal papers, unreasonable restrictions of access should be avoided and all restrictions should have a termination date.
  • Concerning unpublished excavation records, restrictions of access should be clearly defined in the deed of gift.
  • The Archives should not accept excavation records or personal papers on deposit.
  • In the deed of gift, the Archives should reserve the right of future de-accessioning, but only in the case of transfer to a more appropriate repository. Sale should not be allowed.
  • Acceptance of collections larger than 15 linear feet (approximately 5 shelves) should be approved by the Archives Committee. The archivist should prepare and submit a detailed report about the significance of the collection, as well as a cost-benefit analysis (processing, preservation, housing, microfilming, digitization, etc.)

Approval, Revision, and Enforcement

  • To give authority and support, policy and all subsequent revisions must be approved by the Archives Committee.
  • New acquisitions should be mentioned in the Archivist’s annual report

Archives in the Gennadius Library

With the establishment of the Library in 1926, the first collection acquired was that of the founder, John Gennadius, and his father, George Gennadius. Ten years later the family of Heinrich Schliemann, the excavator of Troy and Mycenae, deposited his personal papers in the Gennadius Library. Originally on loan, the papers were purchased in 1962 thanks to a generous grant from the Eli Lilly Endowment. It was the first serious commitment of the American School towards the creation of an organized archival repository at the Gennadius Library. A short time later in 1963, the papers of the famous orchestra conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos were donated to the Library by his literary heirs. The collections continued to grow in importance. In 1971 poet and Nobel laureate George Seferis stipulated in his will that all his manuscripts and papers should come to the Gennadius Library, a wish which was honored by his widow Maro Seferi.  These developments were not accidental and it is only befitting to draw attention to the leading spirit behind these important acquisitions, Francis Walton, Director of the Gennadius Library from 1961 to 1976.

However, the broad collection policy of the Library, “representing the history and culture of Greece from Homer to Seferis” (Frank Walton, Annual Report 1973-1974, p.29), the lack of a written acquisition policy specifically for the Archives, and the poor conditions of the other repositories in Athens, eventually led to acquisitions of uneven themes and importance.

The proposed collection policy, which was first presented in 1999 and is based on a careful thematic analysis of the current holdings of the Gennadius Library Archives, aims at providing guidelines, within limitations of space and budget, for the selection or rejection of future collections. Most importantly, with the establishment of an advisory committee (Archives Committee), it aims at providing continuity in spite of changes in administration and staff.

To be effective, however, a collection policy should be neither general nor narrow and rigid. It must be frequently revised to respond to the current needs of the academic community and to the development of new fields of research. Moreover, it should take into consideration the collecting strengths of other institutions and endorse, when possible, inter-institutional cooperation.

Survey of the Existing Collections (1999)

Our thematic analysis of the existing collections conducted in 1999 has shown that there were two large areas of concentration.

  • Political and diplomatic history of Greece
  • Modern Greek literature

The Gennadius Library is the repository of other important collections, which do not fall thematically into the aforementioned categories, but which are very important to the understanding of Greece’s cultural history. They include the papers of philhellene and archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann and composer Dimitri Mitropoulos. For example, Schliemann’s papers come first in use among all collections at the Gennadius Library.

Proposed Scope - Fields of Acquisition

In line with the aforementioned survey, the following have been adopted:

To continue collecting papers of distinguished political and diplomatic figures of Greece; this thematic area is in full agreement with John Gennadius’ interests and pursuits and constitutes a kind of tradition for the Gennadius Library.

To continue collecting papers of distinguished literary figures of Greece. The founder of the Library, John Gennadius, created an extensive collection of Greek literature: from the Cretan poetry of the 16-17th c. to the Greek Enlightenment of the 18th c. and from the first literary works of liberated Greece in the 19th c. to the early 20th century. Director Frank Walton (1961-1976) continued collecting Greek literature, focusing on the so-called “Generation of the Thirties” with poets George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis as its best known representatives.

To expand the scope of the previous field including literary papers of the first post-war generation (e.g., poets Takis Sinopoulos, George Pavlopoulos and others).

Acquisition Guidelines

Papers of other content may not be collected, unless a special need arises and finds the approval of the Archives Committee.

The Archives Committee consists of the ASCSA Director, the Director of the Gennadius Library, the ASCSA Archivist, the U.S. Admnistrative Director, and the Chair of the Managing Committee.

Segments of a collection already in archival custody elsewhere may not be collected, unless a clear need arises such as damage or loss of said collection.

Before accepting any collection larger than 10 linear feet (approximately 3-4 shelves), the Archivist should prepare and submit to the Archives Committee a detailed report about the significance of the collection, as well as a cost-benefit analysis referring to expenses of processing, housing, possible conservation, future digitization, etc.

The Library should not accept a collection on deposit.

A deed of gift should always be signed between the donor and the ASCSA Director.

The deed should specify what actions will be taken regarding unwanted material
—destroyed
—returned to donor
—sale

Restrictions of access should be clearly defined in the deed of gift; however, unreasonable restrictions of access should be avoided and all restrictions should have a termination date.

Purchase of collections may be permitted with the approval of the Archives Committee, provided that funding has been secured.

When possible, the Library should negotiate the donor’s financial support regarding expenses of processing and preservation.

New acquisitions should be mentioned in the ASCSA Archivist’s annual report.