Ask a Librarian

Gift Acceptance Policy

The vision of the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center (McGovern Historical Center) is to be a world-class special collection in medical history.

I. Purpose

The purpose of the McGovern Historical Center is to support historical biomedical education, research and community interest by preserving and providing access to rare books, papers and records that fall within its general scope.

II. General Scope

The rare book collection focuses on but is not limited to medical books prior to 1950, biographies of Texas physicians, histories of Texas medical institutions, medical and nursing school yearbooks and books on the topics or rheumatism, arthritis, gout, North American public health, and psychiatry and mental healthcare.

The archive collection focuses on the papers of individuals and the records of institutions connected to the Texas Medical Center and Texas as well as to the topics of cardiology, radiation, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, North American public health, radiation effects, psychiatry and mental healthcare.

The types of archival materials collected include correspondence, minutes of meetings, diplomas, financial papers, legal papers, certificates, ledgers, notebooks, photographic materials, scrapbooks, maps, printed materials, medals, audio recordings, film and video recordings, digital documents, anatomical drawings, course catalogs, newsletters, yearbooks and limited three-dimensional objects.

The visual materials collection includes photographs, prints, paintings, sculptures, drawings, oil paintings, historically significant clothing, lantern slides, posters, postage stamps and postcards.

The artifact collection consists of microscopes, medical and surgical instruments, patent medicine bottles, in addition to related artifacts used in medical education or practice. The Library accepts gifts of small instruments and other articles but large items such as oversized hospital equipment and furniture are considered on an individual basis.

III. Criteria for Selection

  • Fits within the General Scope
  • Historical significance
  • Age
  • Special edition
  • Autographed copies
  • Intrinsic characteristics (special binding, format)
  • Provenance
  • Condition (unless particularly significant, items in poor condition are not accepted)
  • Inclusion in well-known bibliographies or other sources (e.g. Garrison and Morton)
  • Generally, the decision to add an item to the collections is based not on one factor but on a combination of several criteria listed above and is made by the Curator or Archivist.

IV. Languages

Although works written in Japanese and European languages are represented, emphasis is placed on works in English.

V. Donations

Donations of books, personal papers, institutional records, visual material or any other items as they relate to the General Scope of the McGovern Historical Center Collection are solicited in an ethical and appropriate manner. A donor must sign a deed of gift transferring all ownership rights (including any copyright) to The TMC Library. The deed of gift must include the stipulation that the Archivist and the Head of the McGovern Historical Collections can dispose of the item in any manner it sees fit. If the donor wants the item returned if it is not accepted, the donor is responsible for securing the return of the item.

VI. Responsibility for Selection

Generally, the decision to add an item to the collections is based not on one factor but on a combination of several criteria listed above and is made by the archivists and the associate director. Acquisition or acceptance of excessively large or expensive donations that may affect storage capacity, security or staffing requirements will require consultation with the Executive Director of The TMC Library.

VII. De-selection

Items in the archives are subject to periodic review and de-selection. These items may be given or sold to archival institutions with an appropriate collection policy. Duplicate items (books, photographs, and portraits) may be de-accessioned and offered for sale. This is the decision of the archivists and the associate director or Executive Director.

VIII. Selection of Circulating Books for Transfer to McGovern Historical Collections

The general collection of Library books is reviewed systematically to identify rare and valuable items in open stacks that should to be transferred to the rare book collection. This decision is made by the Associate Director, Collection Development.

IX. Appraisals

The McGovern Historical Collections staff does not provide appraisals for gifts donated to the Library. Neither does the staff appraise personal books, archival materials or other items for any purpose.

X. Use

Materials (books, papers, photographs, etc) do not circulate outside the departmental premises. Scanned images or photocopies may be made available with or without cost at the discretion of the Archivist and the Associate Director. In some cases, items may be loaned to other institutions for exhibits or special purposes at the discretion of the Archivist and the Associate Director. The Archivist and the Associate Director may refuse a loan if items are rare, delicate, in poor condition or subject to degradation through handling, exposure to light or other factors.