SVREP: What’s in the box?
Assessing the value of a collection is an integral part of what we do in Special Collections. First, we need to determine whether or not the collection falls within our collection development policy. Secondly, we perform an appraisal of the collection to determine the historical value of the materials. According to the Society of American Archivists,
In an archival context, appraisal is the process of determining whether records and other materials have permanent (archival) value. Appraisal may be done at the collection, creator, series, file, or item level. Appraisal can take place prior to donation and prior to physical transfer, at or after accessioning. The basis of appraisal decisions may include a number of factors, including the records’ provenance and content, their authenticity and reliability, their order and completeness, their condition and costs to preserve them, and their intrinsic value. Appraisal often takes place within a larger institutional collecting policy and mission statement.
In the case of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, initial appraisal took place on site at the storage facility where the records were housed. This entailed going through each box, evaluating the contents, and deciding which items were archivally valuable. In Phase I of the project, over 415 linear feet of materials were taken into custody by Special Collections.
As the largest collection in UTSA Special Collections, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP)/Willie C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) records are a beneficial resource for the UTSA community. The collection contains audio-visual materials, field reports, newspaper clippings, letters, voting district maps, voter results, voter demographics, grant proposals, surveys, correspondence, and a myriad of materials available to the public. Researchers interested in Latino history, Texas history, Southwest history, Latin American history, and quantitative history should make it a point to view the SVREP/WCVI collection.
In order to increase voter registration numbers throughout the Southwest SVREP/WCVI had to collect a myriad of voter statistics. Voter turnout based on racial and ethnic demographics, district maps, and opinion polls helped SVREP/WCVI target a specific area to increase voter registration. Through their research, local SVREP chapters established a bulwark against disenfranchisement.
Administratively, SVREP distributed funds and guidance to local chapters throughout the Southwest. Contained within the collection are numerous documents on funding distribution, field reports, and correspondence with local organizations. These field reports serve as a valuable resource for individuals examining SVREP involvement at the local level.
To attract a wide audience SVREP hit the airwaves with commercials featuring prominent Latinos encouraging individuals to get out and vote. One video is of special interest as it features Ricardo Montalbán. The video can be viewed in our Digital Collection.
Protecting people’s right to vote, SVREP supported numerous individuals in their right to be fairly represented. In Lopez v Del Valle Independent School District, SVREP assisted Lopez in his quest for equitable representation. SVREP provided legal consul to make a case that the Del Valle School Board was not an actual representation of the people within the school district. SVREP provided legal support to many organizations and individuals fighting for fair elections.
SVREP went beyond the domestic sphere to focus on international issues relevant to the Latino community. One of these issues included the conflict taking place in Central America. SVREP collected extensive documentation on El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. They even went as far as sending delegates to Nicaragua to experience and report on the activities of the Sandinista government. Furthermore, surveys were issued to voters to gain insight into the significance of United States activity in Central America.
SVREP sought to educate voters and potential voters on how to become empowered citizens. Examining the materials contained within the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project/Willie C. Velasquez Institute records provides a wide range of sources to local, regional, and national issues. Through the sources one can unlock the door to many research opportunities.
The records are currently closed to patron use as an initial inventory is created and funds are secured to begin processing and preserving the materials. For questions about the collection, please contact Special Collections staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Society of American Archivists (SAA), A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology [http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/a/appraisal], accessed July 8, 2015.