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Transfer your records

Collecting guidelines

The University Archives is the official records repository of the University of Minnesota with a mandated responsibility by the Board of Regents to preserve the "historically valuable documentation of University units and individuals, including faculty, staff, and administrators" (Board of Regents Policy, rev. March 2006).

The guidelines below are to assist staff and faculty in determining which kinds of records are of potential historical or long-term administrative value. These records should be regularly and routinely transferred to the Archives. The guidelines are organized to reflect the types of records usually associated with particular offices and individuals. The guidelines are not comprehensive. Per University policies, please consult the Archives before destroying or removing records.

Preparing your files for the University Archives

These guidelines are to assist staff and faculty in determining which kinds of records are of potential historical or long-term administrative value.

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Audiovisual materials

The University Archives selects, preserves, and provides long term access to historically valuable documentation of the University in all formats. Content transferred to University Archives is administered by archives staff who will make it accessible for research and re-use to the campus community and external users. Archives staff will administer use requests from campus and external users including the creation of reference, preservation, or production copies. Members of the campus community will have access to the content they have transferred to University Archives eliminating the need for storage of local/multiple copies.

These guidelines for audiovisual content including film, video, and audio recordings, are designed to assist campus units as they assess their material for potential transfer to University Archives. Please contact University Archives for additional information.

  • University Archives accepts finished campus productions in all formats (e.g. 8/16mm film, VHS/Betacam video, DV tape, DVDs, reel to reel audio, LPs, cassette tapes, CDs). In general, the Archives does not accept raw footage or audio; however, high quality footage / audio of campus scenes or events may be an exception.
  • The Archives cannot accept unidentified, unlabeled material.
  • University Archives cannot preserve content that is restricted from public access.
  • Content transferred to the Archives is presumed to be owned by the Regents of the University and either the product of a campus unit or a work for hire. Audiovisual material that depicts students or non-University individuals must be accompanied by signed releases. Recordings of faculty and staff in the course of their work should not require releases.
  • University Archives cannot accept audiovisual recordings of human subject research. Exceptions may be made for material that successfully received IRB approval, does not contain identifiable private information, or significantly contributes to the historical documentation of the University.
  • The preferred file formats for digital video are .AVI file or .MP4. The preferred file formats for digital audio are .WAV or .AIF. The Archives will also accept other file formats, particularly .MOV for video and .MP3 for audio.

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Born-digital files

Knowledge production happens everywhere at the University of Minnesota, increasingly in digital formats with no paper equivalent. While there are no certainties in the world of digital content, creators of digital information can follow best practices and established standards that will help support sustained access and preservation of their materials.

The University Digital Conservancy program is the "digital arm" of the University Archives and provides access to digital scholarly and administrative records of the University of Minnesota and provides several basic best practices guidelines to help you manage your digital files. Individual consultation is also available.

These guidelines for digital content (including documents, photographs, publications, and websites) are designed to assist campus units and faculty as they assess their material for transfer to University Archives.

  • Born-digital documents / electronic records. When possible, converting to PDF will retain formatting. Certain situations may require retaining the original file format. Please contact University Archives for additional information.
  • Digital media publications. May include newsletters, newspapers, brochures, books by or about the University that are static or interactive in design.
  • Digital photographs. All digital photographs should be accompanied with descriptive information.
  • Harvested or crawled websites. URL should contain umn.edu/ or the domain name should be owned by the University.

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Campus and student organizations

The Archives collections include records of groups associated with the University including student, alumni, staff, and faculty organizations. Publications such as newspapers, newsletters, journals, books by or about the organization. Materials include

  • administrative records,
  • annual and other reports,
  • brochures,
  • budgets and financial summary documents,
  • charters and by-laws,
  • correspondence,
  • directories or lists of officers and members,
  • mission statements,
  • meeting minutes,
  • photographs, film and video, in all formats, documenting University activities, functions, facilities, and its faculty, staff and students (must be identified in some way, such as dates, names, or captions,
  • posters, flyers, announcements, tickets, programs,
  • publications (may include newsletters, newspapers, brochures, books by or about the organization),
  • scrapbooks, and
  • websites (URL must contain umn.edu/ or be domain owned by the University).

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Faculty and administrators

Personal papers provide essential documentation of University history. The University Archives collects the personal and professional papers of senior administrators, long-term faculty, selected alumni, and others whose primary institutional affiliation has been with the University of Minnesota. Administrators, faculty, and alumni such as president and historian Guy Stanton Ford; physicist A.O.C. Nier, and University alumnus and Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug have entrusted their papers to University Archives.

These collections complement departmental holdings and reflect the teaching, research, and service missions of the University of Minnesota. Personal / professional papers may include

  • bibliographies or publication lists,
  • biographical material about the faculty member including curriculum vitae, obituaries, photographs, interviews, bibliographies,
  • correspondence with colleagues and students,
  • consulting files,
  • department and committee records created in an individual’s capacity as a University administrator, department chair, committee chair or member,
  • diaries and journals, personal and professional,
  • family papers, particularly if family members have shared in research efforts,
  • grant and research files, lab notebooks, project records,
  • photographs taken by or of the faculty member, documenting research colleagues and staff, laboratories, equipment, family and friends (identified photographs only),
  • professional contributions. Materials documenting involvement in professional or research organizations,
  • publications (if not otherwise available through libraries),
  • talks and lectures, and
  • teaching materials including lecture notes, course syllabi.

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University departments and offices

The University Archives collects the official records of the University of Minnesota. Please forward records to the University Archives when appropriate. These records may include:

  • Accreditation records or self surveys, both internal and external. May include reports, correspondence, questionnaires, or guidelines.
  • Administrative files. General records concerning the administration of the university and its colleges, departments, and programs. Files may include reports, memoranda, correspondence.
  • Alumni materials. These include directories, reports, and publications.
  • Annual reports of colleges, departments, programs, centers.
  • Annual reports of the university and its units.
  • Audits. Final reports and appendices only.
  • Biographical materials of long-term faculty and senior administrative staff. May include obituaries, memorial service programs, interviews, curriculum vitae. (Please note that promotions and tenure files do not come to the Archives).
  • Budgets. Summary reports and appendices only.
  • Committee and council records. Internal or external, University-wide or on the college, departmental, or program level such as task forces, curriculum committees, consultative committees. May include minutes, agendas, reports.
  • Correspondence.
  • Curriculum development records. Documenting the development and planning for courses offered at the University. May include correspondence, memoranda, proposals, and faculty recommendations.
  • External organizations and associations. Records of multi-institutional collaborations or associations in which the university is a participant.
  • Film and video. All formats, documenting University activities, functions, facilities, and its faculty, staff and students. Must be identified in some way (such as dates, names, or captions).
  • Grants. Materials documenting awarded grants. May include proposals, interim and final reports and summary data. All other records may be discarded after administrative and legal retentions are met.
  • Photographs. All formats, documenting University activities, functions, facilities, and its faculty, staff and students. Must be identified in some way (such as dates, names, or captions).
  • Planning records. Records of the university and its colleges and departments documenting its mission and goals. May include reports, correspondence, and policy and program proposals.
  • Policies and procedures files. Material specific to the University, documenting past and present policies and procedures.
  • Publications. One copy each, includes newsletters, magazines, reports.
  • Research projects. May include proposals, interim and final reports and summary data. All other records may be discarded after administrative and legal retentions are met.
  • Self-surveys. Internal and external reviews. May include reports, correspondence, questionnaires, guidelines.
  • Speech files of senior administrators. Speeches, addresses, or comments made while representing the university. Identified.
  • Websites. University administrative and programmatic sites with URL umn.edu/ or domain owned by the University.

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Additional resources

The University Records and Information Management Program provides guidelines on types of records that may be recycled or destroyed when no longer needed or after a specified retention period has passed.

University-Wide Retention Schedule (PDF)

Additional information is available in the University's policy on Managing University Records and Information. Some types of University records are protected by state and federal privacy legislation or University policy. These include some of the information found in personnel files as well as transcripts, and grade reports.

Examples of Public, Private and Confidential Information

More information on privacy and access is available from the University's Privacy and Security Office.

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