Collection Policy

Popular Culture Collections, Collection Development Policy


The collection policy of the University of Florida Popular Culture Collections (within the Department of Special and Area Studies) is to provide research and exhibit material in support of academic departments (School of Theatre and Dance, Music, History, English, etc.), faculty, students, general research and the overall University of Florida community. Our priority is to acquire irreplaceable primary sources, ephemera of specific interest, reference monographs, rare books and select artifacts to support the existing holdings and long-term research goals. In the mid-1950s, the collection was founded (by librarian and dance historian, Sarah Yancey Belknap) as a dance archive. Since then, the collection has grown to include all aspects of the performing arts, as well as comic books and comics art and history and a general overview of historical and political popular culture. New acquisitions support the growth of existing holdings detailed below.   

The continuing mission of the Popular Culture Collections is to hold materials in trust on behalf of the university, to promote research and writing about the described subject areas, and to make collection resources freely available to all.

Diversity Statement

The Special and Area Studies Collections Department seeks to collect materials that reflect the breadth of human experience in support of the educational mission of the University of Florida. We are committed to acquisition practices that reflect sound stewardship of institutional and community resources. We practice ongoing review of existing collections to ensure diversity and inclusion in description, access, and outreach. Curators collaborate across collections to better represent distinct and overlapping identities and experiences, and to redress gaps in individual collections or across collections. 

Collecting Scope

Collecting efforts are primarily focused on expanding areas of the strengths and in filling gaps in current holdings. This requires careful selection of potential materials in order to avoid duplication and to avoid overlapping holdings with other institutions whose primary mission may involve similar materials. Materials acquired need to reflect the capacity of the Libraries to sustain required stewardship activities. New collecting areas are developed in relation to emerging scholarly interests and to serve the needs of the primary users of this collection, who are faculty, students, scholars and members of the general public undertaking research and teaching from the collection.


  • World-wide popular culture with emphasis on the performing arts, comics and comic books and historical and current events. Although information on the complete history of performing arts is collected and provided, our primary focus is from the 19th and 20th Century to the present.


  • Florida, the United States and international interest.

Subject Areas:

The University of Florida Popular Culture Collections has three distinct subject areas:

New  areas of collecting (beyond the following three areas) are not sought.

Performing Arts –

Dance – The foundation of, what is now labelled, as The Popular Culture Collections includes Sarah Yancey Belknap’s original scrapbooks, small ephemeral collections (Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, Paul Taylor, La Meri, etc.), The Denishawn Collection (25 boxes of ephemera documenting the private and professional lives of modern dance pioneers Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis), international, national and local Playbills/programs and promotional ephemera pertaining to various modern, classical and folk dance troupes, organizations, dancers and choreographers and extensive collections of photographs, posters and select artifacts documenting the world of dance.

Theatre – The largest single collection within the Popular Culture Collections is the Theatre Playbill/Program collection (111 Hollinger boxes containing over ten thousand individual play titles consisting of amateur and professional productions dating back to the 18th Century). The Cal Yeomans Manuscript Collection documents the life and career of a pioneer playwright in the post-Stonewall theatre movement. Also acquired under the Theatre heading, are thousands of production and publicity photographs, posters, heralds and miscellaneous promotional ephemera and an extensive collection of Shakespeare-related historical and promotional material pertaining to the author and each of his plays. Smaller collections (Vaudeville, Burlesque, Minstrelsy, The Booth Family, The Federal Theatre, The Yiddish Theatre, Children’s Theatre, Theatre Festivals, Theatres and Theatre Groups -Florida, National, International, scripts, etc.) have also been compiled.

Cinema – Thousands of promotional programs, souvenir books, photographs, posters (including THE EFRAIN BARRADAS MEXICAN AND FILM POSTER COLLECTION), pressbooks, press kits, monographs, scrapbooks, photoplay novels and research monographs exist within the collection.

Radio/Television – The Preston Wood Script Collection documents the life of and career of one of the most prolific writers of the Golden Age of Radio and Television, a collection of Fred Allen radio scripts, The Dick Summer Audio Collection (consisting of readings by a legendary broadcast personality) and The Sound of Radio and Television (a collection of sound recordings -all formats – spotlighting many of the highlights of broadcast history).

Music – The Florida Music Collection is an extensive collection of sheet music and sound recordings (all formats) dealing with any subject related to the Sunshine State, The Robert Strassburg Collection of Ernest Bloch includes ephemera collected by a Bloch biographer and various ephemeral collections (Opera & Operetta, Popular Music, Composers, Music Festivals, Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Music, Choral Music, etc.). The Bernard S. Parker World War One Sheet Music Collection and a general sheet music collection (Popular, film, theatre, sacred, patriotic, etc.). The general sheet music collection is complete and we no longer actively seek additional items for the POPULAR, THEATRE and CINEMA sheet music holdings. However we will review and consider sheet music specifically pertaining to presidential politics, historical events and tributes.

Performing Arts (Miscellaneous) – Collections that span all of the performing arts (theatre, film, music and television, etc.) include The John David Ridge Costume Design Collection, The Ringling Photograph Collection, Popular Performers (boxed vertical file), Florida Performing Arts (vertical file), African-American g.

Performing Arts, The Trevor “Tommy” Bale Circus Collection, a collection of theatre, film and television scripts and an extensive monograph research collection.

The Jim Liversidge Collection

Items in this collection support all of the subheadings within the Performing Arts collecting area (DANCE, THEATRE, CINEMA, MUSIC, RADIO and TELEVISON) and include promotional ephemera, scrapbooks, photographs, select and specific recordings, autographed and biographical material, select and specific artifacts, research monographs (supporting the subjects and performers included in the collection), etc. In addition, political and historical ephemera, artifacts and memorabilia (primarily 20th Century) are included in the Liversidge Collection holdings.

The Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection

Directly supports the Comic Studies program offered by the Department of English at the University of Florida. The collection is still growing (primarily through donations), and is useful for those interested in the history and development of sequential art formats, particularly in the United States and includes original and reprint comic books, strips, caricatures and related items. The collection holds items from every recognized “Age” of comics as well as every genre, including daily humor strips and political satire as well as superhero, funny animal, and underground comics. The John W. Lindell Collection includes cartoon, comic strip and animation art anthologies and histories collected by John W. Lindell from 1953 through 2007. The collection includes close to 1,000 books by individual artists and 220 books of anthologies published by various magazines. There are also 150 paperback (pocket) books of individual artists and comic strip anthologies. Due to a backlog of processing and space concerns we are not actively accepting additional comic book collections. However, we will still review and consider rare material and related ephemera.

The Popular Culture Collection primarily contains materials used in teaching and research, with online access provided as broadly as possible.

Areas in which the collection will actively consider gift acquisitions include materials that are:

  • Performing Arts – Ephemeral material pertaining to dance, theatre, film, music, television and radio.
  • Comic Books – Ephemeral material pertaining to the history of comic books and comics, artists and writers and comic books in general.
  • Historical and Current Events – Ephemeral material pertaining to political campaigns, World Wars, Cold War, Vietnam War, political protest demonstrations and specific cultural milestones.

The Popular Culture Collections have been presented in collaboration with all collection areas of the Department of Special and Area Studies through campus and community outreach projects, class presentations and exhibits. 

Formats of Popular Culture Collection Materials

Formats of materials currently collected include:

  • Printed or Published Material: Books and pamphlets, broadsides, photographs, ephemera, comic books, etc. Sheet music is reviewed and considered for selected topics (politics, historical events, Florida-themed, etc.).
  • Manuscripts and Archival Material: Correspondence, ephemera, diaries and similar first person accounts, business records, scrapbooks, photographs (and negatives), professional, personal and family papers
  • Audio-Visual Material: Photographs of all varieties, postcards, posters; SELECT and SPECIFIC recordings are reviewed and collected (Florida-themed, political/history-themed, etc.).
  • ART: Even though our main focus is on collecting paper-based material, we SELECTIVELY acquire specific and unique artifacts (mostly as gifts) to support our POPULAR CULTURE holdings (primarily for exhibit purposes).

Formats typically not collected include:

  • Materials that SASC is unable to properly preserve, provide access to, and/or store.
  • Materials that are irreparably damaged or infested by insects or mold or otherwise contaminated.
  • Materials in which the donor’s ownership is in question or disputed.
  • Duplicate materials.
  • Collections that do not fit within the collecting scope of the Archives.
  • Photocopies of materials donated to another repository.
  • Large LP (AND OTHER sound recording format) collections.
  • Due to a backlog of processing and space concerns we are CURRENTLY not accepting additional comic book collections. However, we will still review and consider rare comic book material and related ephemera.

If potential donations are declined because of format, SASC personnel attempt to recommend other possible repositories or uses for such materials, where such options may exist and be readily available.

Donation, Accessioning and Processing Procedures

Generally, gifts must be unencumbered by restrictions as to use, exhibition, or disposition. Additional information is available; please inquire. Proposed donations are evaluated regularly by the curator and/or a curatorial group. Donations must be evaluated prior to their receipt. An inventory of materials is standard practice for consideration of a gift, and in some cases the inventory makes it possible for curators to evaluate a proposed gift. In the field of heritage preservation, the word “appraisal” without additional description refers to an evaluation of historical value and fit with an institution’s collections. Where another institution is a more appropriate fit for certain materials, curators have the professional responsibility to inform potential donors. Curators cannot provide monetary appraisals of materials.

Establishing physical and intellectual control over new acquisitions is called accessioning, and the selection, arrangement, description and creation of access to materials is called processing. SASC has the authority to make decisions relating to the use or disposition of accessions, as specified in gift agreements. SASC is responsible for determining retention, storage location, cataloging, preservation, digitization, exhibition and promotional activities. Gift materials will be exhibited, reproduced, promoted, placed in specific locations and managed as they best fit into the needs and opportunities of the Libraries, in alignment with the University’s mission. Materials deemed to not fit with the permanent collection are removed during processing and not considered part of the permanent collection. Items removed due to their physical condition, lack of historical significance or to preserve the integrity, for security reasons, to avoid duplication, to ensure intellectual coherence or due to fit with institutional needs and resources are not considered part of the permanent collection; these items are considered to have been offered but not accessioned, and their disposition will be at the best judgment of the curator and in compliance with best practices of the profession.

Deaccessioning Process

Deaccessioning is the official removal of items from the permanent collection and culminates a deliberative process. Items may be removed from the collections for compelling reasons, such as deterioration, duplication in the collection, or lack of match with collection scope or significance. In the infrequent instance where this may occur, curators will thoughtfully attempt to match gift material to an appropriate institution or purpose, where possible aligning intention of donor with outcome. When approval for deaccessioning occurs, items may be offered back to original donor. Items discarded during the regular archival appraisal and processing of materials (e.g., removing duplicates) are not considered deaccessioned items.

Policy Revision

This policy will be reviewed every five years by the Curator, with administrative approval prior to posting. Last reviewed/approved [February 25, 2021].