The University Archives is Duke's official archival agency, and is a department of Perkins Library. Our job is to identify, acquire, and preserve official University records that have enduring value for the Duke community, and to make them available in accordance with the policies of the Board of Trustees, Administration, and Faculty. Access to official records is regulated to safeguard confidentiality and privacy. Our staff will be happy to assist you in managing your office's non-current files.
Types of Records to Transfer
What records do you not refer to often, but could not do without? Records are sent to an archive because they are of long-term value, but are not needed for day-to-day administration.
As a rule, send the University Archives the significant and unique records that were generated or received by your office. Records are usually significant and have enduring value if (for example) they document policy development and precedents, major projects, or university rights and responsibilities; if their subject matter caused considerable comment on campus or in the media; if they involved litigation or large sums of money; or, if they have been vital to the operation of your office. A general guideline is to ask what material would be of use to a person writing a report on your office or a history of your department. Consider the potential uses of archived records; for instance, grant proposals often require historical narratives and statistics.
Materials that are appropriate for archival status include:
- 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).
- As for what not to send, 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. Please don't send us your copies of the announcements, directives, and so forth that are distributed throughout the University; we get them too.
Through its Records Management Program the University Archives is developing schedules for offices to follow when they need to dispose of records. Those schedules will provide additional information about the types of records to transfer to the Archives or discard. Visit the Records Management homepage to view current records retention schedules.
- Faculty papers: the Archives is interested in acquiring records of an official nature. These will represent work of faculty or staff committees, or they'll document extra-curricular activities such as faculty-student interaction or town-gown relations. Due to Federal privacy laws governing student records, the Archives does not keep grade books, marked papers or material that might be considered part of a student's academic record.
- Financial records: see the Duke University General Accounting Procedures for information. The Archives will retain only year-end financial statements.
- Personnel records: contact the personnel division for information on the disposition of personnel records.
- Student records: grade reports, advisors' files, and other student-identifiable materials may be considered education records subject to Federal law. These should be handled according to the procedures specified in the University Policy Manual.
- Please use the boxes we provide. We have to make efficient use of limited space, and our facilities are set up to house these containers. Boxes are free of charge for records being sent to the Archives, and can be picked up here on any weekday. Records sent in boxes other than those provided or not having prior approval will not be accepted.
- For letter-size files, 2 file drawers will require 3 boxes
- For legal-size files, 1 file drawer will require 2 boxes.
- For lateral files, 1 box will hold 1¼ feet of letter-size files, or 1 foot of legal-size files.
- If you are sending records of distinct offices, committees, or organizations, please do not intermix them. Keep the records in the order in which they were used in your office.
- Make a list of the folder titles, with their dates (examples). When you need to find something, this list will be invaluable. Think of folder title lists as an index to your office's records. In the coming years, more records will be stored off-site. Accurate folder lists will become essential for retrieving files you need. Be sure to include the name of your office on the sheet, and span of years represented by the files.
- Do not send us records in hanging files or loose-leaf binders. We will not accept them. The hangers take up space and add weight. If records are in hanging files or binders, re-folder them into manila folders. Please do not send us loose, unfoldered paper. Do not use rubber bands on folders; they rot and leave stains. Leave a little wiggle room in the box; don't overstuff it.
- Do not write on the boxes. We will put on a permanent label here. 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.
- Deliver boxes to the loading dock at the rear of Perkins Library. The driveway beyond the Tel-Com building leads there. Please call beforehand, and if possible, someone will meet you. Offices on the main quad of West may find it easier to bring records in through the front of the Library; we can provide you with a hand truck.
- When we've logged the records in, we'll send you a receipt. Please keep this for future reference. The accession number on it is what we use to keep track of your office's records.