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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 2 - Faculty and Academics
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Policy Reviewed Date: November 8, 2023
Policy Owner: VP for Academic Affairs

9.33 Collections Management Policy - Center for Archaeological Research


The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), through the curation facility at the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR), provides opportunities for research by UTSA students, faculty, staff, and accredited researchers through the maintenance of collections. As a Texas Historical Commission (THC) accredited curation facility, CAR provides long-term care for Held-in-Trust collections.  


This policy outlines the principles and procedures for management of collections at UTSA’s Center for Archaeological Research.


This policy applies to all UTSA faculty, staff, students, and outside researchers.



UTSA or UT System Policies or the Board of Regents’ Rules & Regulations

  1. UTSA HOP policy 9.23, Procedures Governing Private Gift Solicitation, Acceptance, and Management

Other Policies & Standards

  1. Curation of Federally-Owned and Administered Archeological Collections; 36CFR Part 79
  2. Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
  3. National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
  4. Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA)
  5. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  6. Texas Administrative Code. Title 13. Rules of Management and Care of Artifacts and Collections. Revision pending 2013
  7. Texas Administrative Code.  Title 13. Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Antiquities Code of Texas.
  8. American Alliance of Museums Museum Accreditation Program
  9. Council of Texas Archeologists Guidelines and Standards for Curation


If you have any questions about HOP policy 9.33, Collections Management Policy - Center for Archaeological Research, contact the following office:

The Center for Archaeological Research


Accession: The permanent entry of a collection into the holdings of an institution through transference of title or custodianship. 

Certified Curatorial Repository: An institution that holds materials of cultural heritage and is certified as a state repository.

Catalogue: A listing of objects and records in a collection that includes a typological classification, count of objects, or linear inches of space occupied, and provenience information. Here an inventory and a catalogue are synonymous. 

Collection: A distinct group of objects and/or records.   

Curation: The permanent storage of a collection with an institution’s holdings meeting the standards of a repository according to federal and state regulations.

Curator: The person who is responsible for the care, maintenance, and inventory of collections in an institution’s holdings.

Held-in-Trust: The custodianship of a collection for the people of the jurisdiction from whence it came. Collections at CAR are commonly held for the people of Texas (state held-in-trust) or the United States (federal held-in-trust). 

Inventory: See Catalogue. 

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA): Enacted in 1990 to protect graves and associated funerary objects of aboriginal (native) American origin.

Texas Historical Commission (THC): The State Historical Preservation Office responsible for the preservation of the state’s cultural resources.


  1. Dean, College of Liberal and Fine Arts
    1. Serves as member of the NAGPRA/Human Remains Committee
  2. Chair, Department of Anthrpology
    1. Oversees Director of CAR
    2. Serves as member of the NAGPRA/Human Remains Committee
  3. CAR Director
    1. Oversees CAR personnel
    2. Reviews all proposed accessions of human remains and requests for loans exceeding the established one-year normal period
    3. Is accountable for the fiscal soundness of the operating budget dedicated to collections maintenance
    4. Serves as a member of the NAGPRA/Human Remains Committee
  4. CAR Curator
    1. Has primary responsibility for maintaing the collections, authorizing the acceptance of new collections, and establishing loans to and from CAR holdings
  5. CAR staff NAGPRA Representative
    1. Serves as a member of the NAGPRA/Human Remains Committee


Collections housed at CAR are generated under the jurisdiction of federal or state mandates.  State of Texas collections fall under the jurisdiction of the Title 13 Cultural Resources of the Texas Administrative Code Part 2, Texas Historical Commission Chapter 26 Practice and Procedure (the Texas Antiquities Code) and Chapter 29, Certified Curatorial Repository Program.  Multiple federal regulations govern archaeological activities and collections, including the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Care and control of collections from these activities are mandated by Federal Code of Regulations 36 CFR Part 79 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

  1. Scope of Collections: CAR’s holdings of archaeological materials and related documents are representative of regional and thematic areas that encompass: 1) historic San Antonio; 2) the Spanish Missions; and 3) prehistoric hunter-gatherers and proto-historic Indians of the greater south–central and south Texas regions. Records and artifacts are accepted with the understanding that the primary usage is research by students, scholars, and other authorized persons. CAR will consider accepting collections when such collections benefit the overall research goals of the students and faculty of the Department of Anthropology and UTSA.
  2. Public Interface
    1. Appraisals and Donations - UTSA policy requires donations have a stated monetary value of above or below $5000. CAR does not provide appraisals to prospective donors or the public in general. The acceptance of any donation of records or objects is subject to a clear chain of title and must be accompanied by a statement that the donor has the legal authority to make the donation (Deed of Gift form).  
    2. Public Information - In the interests of fostering cooperation with researchers and other institutions, the CAR’s website carries a county by county listing of collections held at the facility.   
    3. Access - The collections stored at CAR are Held-in-Trust for the people of the state of Texas and the United States.  State certification delegates the authority for access to the repository.  In the case of federal collections, the controlling agency will be consulted prior to granting access.  For the protection of the collection, a research proposal must be approved in advance by the curator and director before any researcher is granted access.  CAR reserves the right to deny access to persons without a valid scientific research plan.  Access to any human remains must meet with the stipulations present under NAGPRA (see HOP policy 9.34, Repatriation Policy for the Center for Archaeological Research).
  3. Registration System: a Deed of Gift form, signed by the person or person holding legal title to the materials, is required for acceptance of a donated collection.  CAR will not accept any donated materials without a title transfer.  Collections and records produced by state or federally mandated compliance projects must be accompanied by a transfer of custodianship from the state or federal agency to CAR.  Project materials submitted by a contractor acting on behalf of a regulatory agency must obtain permission from the custodial agent and submit the appropriate documentation with an original signature.  Details of acquisition, accession, loan, curatorial, and reporting procedures, as well as specific associated requirements for these subjects, are provided on the CAR website.
  4. Collections Care and Storage
    1. Access - The policy of CAR limits access to collections to qualified researchers only.  The public is limited by the policies enumerated above under Section IX.B, Public Interface.  Only CAR staff with legitimate reasons, and with permission of the curator or assistant curator are granted unsupervised access.  Certain storage locations are secured by keyed locks and the keys must be obtained from the curator.  Moreover it is preferred that collections are moved to locations in sight of the curatorial staff for research purposes by staff or outside researchers.  Depending on the security risk, some materials, such as human remains, will be secured at the end of each working day.
    2. Loans - Internal and external loans are made to and from the CAR collections to promote research.  Loan transactions and procedural steps are outlined on the CAR website.
    3. Conservation/Care - Over the history of CAR collections management and curation standards have changed; therefore, not all collections comply with current standards.  The following items are prohibited in the collections storage area: tobacco, food, drink, and personal items.  No objects or records may be removed from the facility without a formal loan. The maintenance of the collections at the level of high quality archival care will be supported to the limit of the fiscal abilities of the CAR. 

      For all state associated collections, the following apply:
      1. Regulated and monitored temperature, relative humidity and atmospheric pollutants;
      2. Low and/or filtered light levels;
      3. Integrated pest management;
      4. Archival housing units that provide a buffer between collections and the environment;
      5. Archival packaging materials that provide a buffer between collections and the environment;
      6. Use of preventive conservation strategies;
      7. Use of routine preventive maintenance;
      8. Safe handling and moving of objects/collections.

      Additionally, state associated collections require that:

      1. The THC approves conservation treatments prior to their commencement, unless the THC has delegated this authority in writing to the curatorial facility through the Agreement for Approved Categories of Objects;
      2. Conservation treatments are performed only by trained conservators;
      3. Conservation treatments are reversible in nature and are carried out with compatible materials;
      4. Conservation treatments are documented prior to, during and after completion;
      5. Annual reports are made to the THC on conservation treatments regarding state-associated held-in-trusts.

    4. Light, Humidity, Temperature, and Particlulate Management - Throughout much of the facility, collections are housed within locked metal cabinets in complete darkness.  CAR staff maintain a database of environmental conditions including temperature and humidity.  HOBO devices monitor temperature and humidity 24 hours a day.  Dehumidifiers are stationed within particular parts of the facility to remove excess water vapor throughout the year. The Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management Program has added the CAR building to its monitoring program.  Baseline data will be collected, and at six month intervals mold, pollen, nuisance dust, as well as chemical composition of the air will be collected and tested. 
    5. Pest Management - Non-chemical methods of pest control are used within the CAR building.  The UTSA grounds staff periodically applies a chemical barrier along the foundation on the exterior of the building and monitors the growth of vegetation along the foundation and the tree overhangs at the roof line. All incoming collections whether to be newly accessioned or returned from analysis or loan are inspected prior to incorporation with the existing collections. All new staff, interns, and volunteers are informed of the non-toxic or least toxic measures taken to minimize and control pest infestations.
  5. Security and Disaster Management
    1. Security - Chapter 8 of of UTSA’s Handbook of Operating Procedures stipulates the access procedures to keyed locations.  Entry to the CAR building by non-employees is by a badge and sign-in procedure.  Beyond the front office, the visitor is always accompanied by CAR staff.  Once admitted to the processing area and collections storage areas of the repository, a staff member is always close at hand.  The main exterior doors to the CAR building have been wired with card readers to monitor activity in and out of the building during the specified times the alarm system is engaged.  The fire alarm system is also similarly equipped.  The UTSA Police Department is the main contact for any alarm incidents.  The back doors are locked and alarmed at all times. 
    2. Insurance -
        UTSA is considered a subdivision of the state and as such is self-insured.  A waiver of additional insurance as stipulated in the THC’s curatorial repository certified program has been provided to CAR.
      1. Backup systems - The electronic records for the CAR collections are maintained on the UTSA servers that are backed on a daily basis.  Additionally, a DVD or CD backup of the PDF versions of all records, the report, and either Excel or Access database of the artifact recovered and analyzed is curated for each accession. 
      2. Disaster Management and Recovery - The The Office of Emergency Preparedness at UTSA has developed an Emergency Preparedness Plan stipulating that the UTSA Police Department be the Incident Command Operations Center.  The UTSA Police Department will contact the Emergency Response Team members who will in turn contact the people on the CAR’s Emergency Contact List consisting of the director, assistant director, administrative officer and the curator. Damage that occurs as the result of disasters can be mitigated through the practice of emergency preparedness procedures of the UTSA Office of Emergency Management and the education of the staff about the local hazards and risk analysis and the measures to be taken before, during, and after an emergency.




    Curation – CAR website: