Harmful content in digital repositories

The University of Minnesota Libraries provides access to materials across our collections, including content from Archives and Special Collections, in an effort to preserve these resources and make them available to as many people as possible. We recognize that these research materials contain some content that is disturbing and may be harmful. 

Some material contains language, imagery, or other content that is racist, sexist, xenophobic, colonialist, ableist and/or discriminatory or hateful toward a person's or group of people's identity and experiences, including, but not limited to, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Other disturbing or harmful content may include graphic or violent content, including but not limited to medical procedures, physical violence, or death. These items are preserved for their enduring research value, and are presented in their original state and context.

The University of Minnesota Libraries aims to describe materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. Some of the descriptive language reflects and re-uses the words and ideas of the people and organizations that created the material. The Libraries is aware that this descriptive language may include language that is offensive. We are committed to addressing descriptions that are harmful. For more information, view our statement on Historical language in archival description.

If you have questions about our retaining and presenting original materials with harmful or disturbing content, we welcome conversation. If you are concerned about language or content that you encounter, please contact Archives and Special Collections Director Kris Kiesling at kiesling@umn.edu.