Transferring Records to the Archives
An archives is the official repository of an institution’s records and serves as the collective memory of that institution. For this reason, only records that have permanent, historic, and enduring value should be transferred to the archives.
Assessment of Value
In general, an office is required to maintain a copy of any document created by or originating in that office. Conversely, an office is not required to maintain copies of documents created by other offices in the same institution. Making this distinction when trying to decide what papers to save will cut down significantly on the storage of duplicate records throughout the institution.
It is helpful to distinguish between papers that are “of the record” and those that are for reference. “Of the record” papers are usually those that were created by the office and have long-term value. (Ex., correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, and subject files.) Reference materials (ex., publications) are generally acquired by the office to assist in their work and originated elsewhere. If the reference material is no longer being used, it can be destroyed. If the material is supportive of the work created in the office, it should be retained for future reference.
Drafts and copies of documents that are created as part of the normal work process should also be destroyed as soon as a final version has been approved to avoid future confusion and eliminate overcrowding of files.
In trying to assess the value of papers, the simple question you need to ask yourself is: “Do these records help to tell the work of our office, and, thereby, the work of the institution?”
Preparing Paper and Other Physical Records for Transfer
Preparing records for transfer to the Archives is the responsibility of the office that created the records. [Hereafter referred to as Office of Origin.] Only those offices that have been authorized to transfer records to the Archives may do so. If you have any questions after reading the instructions below, please contact the Archives staff to request an individual consultation.
The Archives requires that all records be packed in standard-size storage boxes (10”H x 12”W x 15”D). Offices are required to supply the boxes used to transfer records. The records will be stored in these boxes until they are transferred to archival quality boxes.
Approved storage boxes:
- Bankers’ Box Basic-Strength Store/File Storage boxes
- Office Depot Quick Set-Up Storage Boxes with Lift Off Lid
- Quill Brand Premium EZ Fold Storage Boxes
2. Packing the boxes
- Records should be purged of unnecessary materials such as hanging folders, binders, report covers, rubber bands, binder clips, or paper clips.
- Records should be placed in file folders that are clearly labeled.
- Records should be packed according to the filing system used by the Office of Origin and in alphabetic or numeric order.
- Records should be placed in the box vertically and in the same direction. Do not lay folders on top of vertically filed records
- Boxes should not be over packed. A box is packed properly when there is about an inch of space at the back, the lid fits on securely, and none of the sides bulge out. If a box cannot be filled completely, use crumpled scrap paper to fill the empty space.
- Records that are oversized, such as architectural drawings, framed photographs, or books, should be packed in tubes or boxes that are large enough to hold them. Any item with glass, such as a picture frame, should be wrapped in paper to ensure that it does not break during transfer.
- Weed out duplicate copies of items unless there is a compelling reason to keep them. If transferring programs of events sponsored by the institution, four copies are adequate.
- Do not send reference books, office equipment manuals, blank forms, excess stock of publications or stationery, or broken or unidentifiable objects.
- Do not send loose material, i.e., items that are not in any discernible order, without first discussing the special circumstances of such a transfer with the Archives.
3. Labeling the boxes
The outside of each box must be clearly labeled to identify its contents. This information must be recorded on one of the short ends of the box so that it can be read after it has been shelved in the Archives. The labeling format is as follows:
- Office of Origin
- Brief description of box’s contents
- Date span of records in box
- Accession number*
*: Institutional code (AB: Archdiocese of Baltimore; PSS: Associated Sulpicians of the U.S.; SMSU: St. Mary’s Seminary & University) – Date (yyyymmdd) – Box # (each box being transferred should be numbered in sequential order)
Archbishop’s Office (Office of Origin)
Subject Files, A-B (Box Contents)
2001-2010 (Date Span)
AB20120501-1 (Accession Number)
4. Preparing a Records Transfer Form
Every transfer of records must include a Records Transfer form. This form officially documents the transfer of records from the Office of Origin to the Archives. It contains a detailed list of the records transferred, the total number of boxes sent, and the date on which the transfer occurred.
Maintain one copy for your office and send one copy to the Archives.
5. Transferring Boxes to Archives
Contact the Archives staff to schedule the physical transfer of the records to the Archives. Staff will usually pick up 10 or fewer boxes. For larger numbers of boxes, or if other conditions preclude the staff from making the pick-up, the office transferring records should consult with the Archives staff to make alternate arrangements.
6. Retrieving Files from the Archives
The Office of Origin may borrow back files it has transferred to the Archives by submitting an Office of Origin Request form. The office will need to reference the Records Transfer form to identify which file(s) it needs to borrow.
Upon receipt of the form, the Archives staff will contact the requestor to schedule pick-up or delivery.
7. Returning Borrowed Files to the Archives
Borrowed files must be returned promptly after the office has finished using them. Contact the Archives staff to notify when the files will be returned and to schedule pick-up or delivery. Individual folders should be placed in sealed envelopes. Boxes of files do not need to be sealed.