Records and documents are sent to an archive because they are of long-term, historical value, but are not needed for day-to-day administration or use. As a general rule, what is placed into an archive are significant and unique records generated or received by you, your office or organization.
University records are usually significant and have enduring value if (for example): they document policy development and precedents, major projects, or university rights and responsibilities; their subject matter caused considerable comment on campus or in the media; or if they have been vital to the operation of your office.
Materials appropriate for transfer to University Archives
- Correspondence and subject files of the Dean, Director or Chair.
- Publications, such as newsletters and annual reports.
- Records of program or curriculum development.
- Departmental minutes; committee minutes and reports.
- Self-studies, histories, and accreditation reports.
- Records about symposia and special projects.
- Records about cooperative efforts with other institutions.
- Records about relationships with government, business, or industry.
- Photographs (if identified). (Note: If your office has copies of photographs taken by the W.U. Photo Services Dept., you do not need to send these – we already get them from Photo Services / Public Affairs)
Records not eligible for transfer
- Transactional records such as leave requests and purchase orders are not usually of long-term value.
- The Archives does not have space for reprints, bulky artifacts, or more than two copies of reports and publications.
- Routine correspondence (for example, requests for course information and acknowledgments) is generally not valuable.
- Records related to personnel matters (e.g. applications and supporting material, resumes, evaluations, records of interviews, etc.). Disposition of faculty and staff personnel records should be coordinated with the Human Resources Office (935-8095).
- Student records (including applicant files). Disposition of student records should be coordinated with the Office of the University Registrar(formerly known as Office of Student Records).
For more information about how long to keep non-permanent records, see the WUSTL Records Management Policy (pdf).
Guidelines for packing your records
Contact University Archives prior to packaging and sending your records.
- Include your completed and signed Records Transfer Form in the first box (or send separately in campus mail). The records transfer form is for use by University offices and departments.
- Boxes: Boxes should be letter size on one size, legal on the other. Larger boxes become too heavy. The Paige Company makes a “Miracle Box” which is excellent for transferring records. 1-800-662-6937; ask for the #15 Miracle Box.
- Records should be in folders (manila folders are fine) and with the contents clearly written on each.
- Please do not send us records in hanging files – they take up space and add weight (if possible, please do not send files in three-ring binders, for the same reason).
- Do not use rubber bands on folders; they break and leave stains.
- Pack the items rather loosely in the box — do not over-stuff.
- Attach a sheet of your letterhead to the box cover, with the date and name of a contact person, and label it “To University Archives.” If you have many boxes, contact us about special arrangements for pick-up.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the University Archivist at (314) 935-9730.
Are you a member or leader of a local or campus organization, civic group, or program? Don’t let your history be lost!
- Document the activities of your group: keep minutes of meeting; save copies of publications and flyers; and take photographs of members, meetings, and events.
- Label your materials with full names, dates, and descriptions of events or circumstances.
- Keep your records together in one central place. Assign someone to be secretary and have them pass on information to their successor annually.
- Develop a straightforward filing system that works for you. There’s no one best way to do this.
- Store your records away from dampness, dust, excessive heat, and sun.
- Avoid using paper clips and rubber bands. If you have documents that need to be kept together, use stainless steel staples or plastic clips.
- Develop a routine of transferring inactive records at the end of the semester, year, or your leader’s term of office.
- Consider the fate of your non-paper documents. Digital records can pose software and hardware access problems. Save CDs/DVDs, memorabilia, photographs, posters, sound recordings, and videos, as well as traditional paper documents. Contact us if you have materials on websites or social media pages that we can export and preserve.
- Get to know the archive staff of Special Collections and learn more about our collections.
- When in doubt, don’t throw it out! Contact Archives staff to discuss a donation or learn more about how to preserve your organization’s records.
Washington University Libraries Special Collections welcomes gifts of materials as well as financial support. If you would like information about making a gift to Special Collections, please contact the Libraries’ Director of Development.
Sample deed of gift (for donors outside the University giving items to the archives)