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This article explores the theoretical and practical developments in documentation planning for acquiring archival manuscript material of under-documented topics. The author examines the emergence of documentation planning theory in the 1970s and 1980s as a response to historians’ and archivists’ calls regarding the lack of historical records related to racial and ethnic groups, women, the working class, and the lives of ordinary people. Heeding this call, archivists initiated programs to assist repositories in identifying and selecting materials that present a more balanced historical record. The author concludes by assessing one repository’s experience with collecting records on underdocumented topics and suggesting a model for other special collection libraries and archival repositories.


Publisher Acknowledgment

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services in 2002, available online:



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