Education Collection Development Policy

Created May 10, 2016, by Vakil Smallen, NEA Project Archivist

Purpose of the Collection

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) is the official archive for the National Education Association (NEA). NEA is the largest union in the U.S.—representing more than 3 million educators with affiliates in thousands of American communities. NEA supports teachers at the local level through these affiliates as they bargain with their employers. This archive contains a wealth of primary source material related major topics including strikes, negotiations, teacher pay and health insurance, and school financing, with details from each state’s affiliate. The acquisition in 2009 of the National Education Association Archive and its significance as a well-utilized resource by scholars led to the decision within Special Collections to expand collection development to include Education in our scope. This policy reflects the desire to increase depth for those areas where the NEA archive is strongest. The purposes of the education collections are:

  • To improve documentation of those topics defined within the subject coverage section
  • To record the history of those organizations whose stated purpose is to work on those topics defined in the subject coverage section
  • To complement and challenge positions taken by the NEA that are reflected in the NEA Collection
  • To assist the NEA Archivist in developing context for collecting primary source materials related to education
  • To support the GW Libraries vision to build robust and unique content to attract local, national and international scholars

Subject Coverage

Material from organizations or individuals who work within the subjects covered will be collected. The specific subjects covered are:

Education Policy

Work created or collected by institutions that seek to influence policy development, primarily at the federal or national level, through advocacy, research, and analysis, or that seek to provide analysis and information to policy-makers or a broader audience. Education policy consists of the assemblage of laws, guides, and rules that govern schools, educators, and education systems. These can impact education in general or target specific issues, individuals, or organizations. This includes laws and Acts of Congress, guidelines from Cabinet departments, or codes of ethics and other professional guidelines produced by private organizations. These materials may also include the work of writing, negotiating, and passing those laws, guides and rules, including the external and internal forces that may influence how a government agency or professional organization designs these laws, guides, and rules.

History of Education in the United States

History of education theory and of advocacy to affect education policy in the United States.

Educators’ Rights

Organizations that seek to improve education by improving the working conditions, professional training and education, or job security of teachers and other educators.


Material from organizations whose purpose otherwise fits with the subject coverage but have substantial collections of records held at other institutions are directed elsewhere.

Collecting Scope

General Guidelines

The SCRC will collect, preserve, and make available primary and rare materials related to education at all academic levels, including early childhood, K-12, undergraduate, and graduate. Materials will be collected in all formats to meet the research and instructional needs of the students and faculty of the George Washington University as well as academic scholars.


Primarily English, but consideration will be given to bilingual and foreign language materials.

Period of coverage

The education collections date from the mid-19th century through the early 21st century, with the bulk of material created between 1890 and 2000. Special Collections will collect material created any time between 1607 and the present. The first school in the US was founded in 1635. The first public high school was founded in 1821, in Boston. The first two professional associations to represent teachers were founded in 1845 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Compulsory education laws first appeared in Massachusetts in 1852 and spread to every state by 1917.


Collecting emphasizes the United States. Materials on education from other countries, as well as from international sources, are collected if they add research value or complement existing strengths of the collection.