Donating Papers to AWTS

Types of Papers the AWTS Collects

The mission of the AWTS is to provide access to the scholarly and personal papers of prominent women who have reshaped theological education and American church life since 1900, and to serve as the living memory and documentary repository for materials pertaining to Christian women's movements for progressive social change during the same period. In pursuit of this aim, the archives collects, preserves and makes available for use several kinds of records:

  • Personal Records
  • Organizational Records
  • Other Materials

Personal Records

Personal papers are the records created, received or accumulated by women in theological scholarship and religious studies, church and other religious leaders, and women involved in a range of social change movements. Such papers may relate to professional or official positions, academic departments, volunteer or community activities, participation in historic events, and to personal and family life.

Once they are received, collections are processed, indexed and made available for research use. Sensitive materials may be found within collections. AWTS staff are happy to discuss with donors the possibility of restricting parts of a collection for an agreed length of time to protect the privacy of the donor or others.

Organizational Records

The archives collects the papers of women's organizations, institutions, communities, and movements for progressive social change and also those of organizations whose membership includes men and women, and whose concerns are focused on the needs and interests of women.

The AWTS collects the records of currently active organizations as well as historical organizations that are no longer operational. Active groups may find it helpful to donate inactive files at regular intervals. Members still have access to their records and occasional photocopies of documents can be provided when needed, but the organization itself is relieved of the burden of storage and the servicing of research requests.

Other Materials

The Archives of Women in Theological Scholarship collects secondary materials which document the evolution of women's roles in religious life and the development of scholarly work by women in theology and religious studies. These include publications and records in the fields of women in theology and religion, which are considered to have long-term historical value.

A collection may be donated in one or several parts. Donors do not need to sort or discard papers before donating them. If they wish to do so, it is preferable that they contact the AWTS before beginning, as it is helpful to the archivist to receive materials in the order which they were used or stored. Please be aware that items, which the donor considers unimportant, may have significant value in light of the library's other holdings.

After working with donors to identify materials to be donated, the AWTS will arrange for the papers or records to be transported to The Burke Theological Library. Legal transfer of the documents from the donor to the AWTS occurs when the donor reviews and signs a gift agreement formally making the collection part of the library's holdings. During the processing and indexing of the materials, if staff find items that do not belong at the library, those items will be returned to the donor or disposed of in accordance with the donor's wishes.


Copyright is the right to publish quotations from published works or unpublished papers. When no other agreement about copyright has been made, this right belongs to the author of the manuscript material during her lifetime and for fifty years thereafter; each researcher who wishes to publish a quotation must obtain permission from the author or her heirs.

Monetary Appraisals for Tax Deductions

Gifts of personal papers by the creator or recipient are not currently tax-deductible. In certain unique circumstances, however, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of a manuscript collection. Donors are encouraged to speak to their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. By law, AWTS staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of a collection. It is the donor's responsibility to arrange for and bear the cost of any appraisal.

Care and Operation of the Archives

Care of the Collection

Collections are kept in an environmentally controlled, secure area of The Burke Theological Library. They do not circulate outside of the library and are consulted in a supervised reading room.

To provide access, collections are arranged and described in guides and inventories that are used by researchers to select materials for study. To provide information about the collection, details of the description are submitted to international library databases, increasingly accessible via the Internet.

Some collections may contain materials that are physically deteriorating. The library's professional conservators are able to provide appropriate treatment for long term preservation.

Operation of the AWTS

The AWTS is administered by the Archivist who reports to the Director of The Burke Library.

To discuss donation of a collection of personal or organizational papers to the Archives of Women in Theological Scholarship, please contact the archivist at Burke Library Archives, at (212) 851-5612 or