Transferring Your Organization's Records to the University Archives

Did you know that the records of your student organization are part of Duke University’s history? The Duke University Archives is your partner in saving and archiving your records for the future.

What does "archiving" a student organization’s records mean?

The Duke University Archives collects "inactive" organizational records — that is, documents and other materials that you consult once a year or less.

By archiving your group's inactive records at the Duke University Archives, you'll ensure that future group members have a place to turn when they:

  • have questions about group projects and events
  • want to reach out to group alumni for reunions or fundraising
  • find historical facts or photos to promote the group. 

What types of materials can I transfer to the Duke University Archives?

The following types of materials — either paper-based or electronic — are appropriate for transfer:

  • correspondence (including e-mail!)
  • ephemeral items, such as event flyers and posters
  • key financial documentation, such as annual budgets
  • meeting minutes, organizational constitutions or by-laws, member handbooks & policy statements
  • organizational histories, self-studies & reports
  • photographs, scrapbooks, audio recordings & video
  • publications produced by your organization
  • research or subject files
  • websites, blogs & other social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, etc.)

And these types of materials are OK to keep in your office or discard:

  • Routine financial documents, like receipts for purchases
  • Artifacts like trophies or award plaques
  • Duplicate copies of publications published by your organization (we’ll keep two copies at most)

Check with us if you have other documentation that doesn't match these types. We'll help you decide whether it belongs at the University Archives.

Ready to archive your organization's records?

Step 1: Get in touch with us! We'll meet with you to discuss your group's records and whether they're ready for transfer to the Duke University Archives.

  • We'll give you guidelines for packing up and inventorying your materials.
  • We'll provide archival boxes that will keep your materials safe while they're being transferred to the University Archives.
  • We'll work with you to determine the best way to deliver electronic records to us — whether by CD, flash drive or digital dropbox.

Step 2: Share the plan for archiving your group's records with your members and faculty advisors.

  • We can help with advice on making the case for archiving your group's records.
  • You'll want to make sure everyone is on board with the plan before you begin transferring your materials to us.

Step 3: Pack up and transfer your materials to the University Archives.

  • Pick up archival boxes from us and pack up your non-electronic materials in them.
    • Let us know if you need tabbed file folders. We aren’t able to accept loose papers or hanging file folders.
    • Make a box list for each box, including the titles of each folder or item, as well as the start and end dates of the material. We'll give you guidelines.
    • Label each box with a sheet of paper giving your organization name, the date, and the name of a contact person.
    • Schedule a time to drop off your materials with University Archives staff.
  • Work with our Electronic Records Archivist to archive copies of your electronic records.

Step 4: Don't forget the work you've done!

  • Pass information about your records to your new officers and members, and ask them to visit the Duke University Archives to acquaint themselves with your group's archival legacy.
  • After you've completed your first records transfer, you may want to consider creating a schedule or policy for your organization that will prompt future group members to transfer new records to the Duke University Archives on a recurring basis — e.g., toward the end of each academic year as graduating organization officers get ready to leave campus.
  • You may also want to designate a group historian to study organizational history and serve as your group's liaison with the Duke University Archives.

What happens after your organization's records are archived?

  • We'll arrange your materials in archival boxes, describe them in an online inventory called a finding aid (see an example), and store them safely in an environment designed to preserve them for a long time.
  • When you need to consult your records, the University Archives staff can help you arrange a research visit to Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Reading Room. Your records may be stored off-site at the Library Service Center, so we'd just need a day or two of advance notice to prepare for your visit.
  • You'll have a group of helpful archivists ready to help you with your group history questions. We'll be available to work with your group to discover your history — what your predecessors were working on 5, 10 or even 50 years ago — both now and once you've left Duke.
    • We can help you find documentation about your group in the records of Duke administrative officers, departments and campus publications.
    • We can help you learn about what student life at Duke was like when your organization formed or celebrated important milestones.