Preparing Your Records for Donation

Below you will find information about how to prepare your records for donation.

Two questions

Before preparing your records for donation, it’s helpful to ask the following questions:

1. What records illustrate my life/the life my family and/or the activities of my organization?
2. Are these records organized in any particular way?

Wherever possible, archivists try to preserve original order, which the Society of American Archivists defines as “the organization and sequence of records established by the creator of the records.” We do this because we believe it is important to preserve the context of a record’s creation. If your records do not appear to be organized in a particular way, that’s okay too.

Step 1 - Place records in boxes

Try to keep records in their original sequence when placing them in boxes. It is a good idea to keep them in their original enclosures: file folders, albums, envelopes. Archivists use these enclosures to determine places and dates.

Step 2 - Prepare a simple file list

The file list should outline what is found in each box. You may also include contextual information in the form of who, what, where, when.

Step 3 - Provide dates, places, and names for all photographs

We recognize it’s not always possible to do this, but try and do it wherever possible. Make sure you always use pencil if writing on the backs of photographs!

Step 4 - Provide basic information about the records’ creator

For organizations, this will take the form of a simple administrative history. For individuals and families, this will take the form of a biographical sketch. Not only is this useful to archivists, but it is indispensable to researchers

Still have questions? Send us an email!