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Records Management at UNC-Chapel Hill: Transfer to Archives

This guide contains information and tips for UNC-Chapel Hill employees about records management requirements and procedures.

About University Archives

University Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to the historically valuable, unpublished records of UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC General Administration. The records held in University Archives span from the chartering of the University in 1789 to the present. 

Learn more about our mission, vision, and values on the University Archives and Records Management Services website

What to Send to the University Archives

In addition to guiding University staff on when to discard records, the University Archives collects and preserves records of permanent value that document the University’s history. These records cover the entire history of UNC, from 1789 to the present. The Records Schedule provides some guidance as to what series of records are should be retained permanently and transferred to the University Archives. In general, this is a very small portion of the records created in your office. 

Examples of institutional records that are preserved by University Archives: 

  • Meeting minutes and agendas
  • Correspondence (email or printed) that documents major decisions or functions in your department
  • Final reports and documents from committee work and projects
  • Strategic planning and policy development

Life of a Permanent Record

Once permanent records are transferred to the University Archives, we do a quick review of the transfer to check that everything you intended to transfer is present and in the order described in the transfer form. If there are additional materials present, or if we have questions about some of the materials, we will contact you for more information.   

We then begin the process of making these records available for researchers: 

  • If necessary, we refolder or rebox the records for preservation purposes. If the records are digital, we complete a series of digital preservation procedures.
  • If you identify any of the records you transferred as containing confidential information, we review and address those records — usually separating them from the rest of the collection and closing access to them for a set period of time. We do not conduct a page-by-page review to determine if there are additional sensitive records — we count on the transferring office to identify any records that may contain sensitive information. 
  • The records are stored in Wilson Library, in a secure, climate-controlled environment. Digital Records are stored in the Digital Collections Repository
  • So that researchers know what records we have, we create an online collection guide for the materials, or add to an existing guide — some departments have records in the University Archives going back 200 years! Here's an example of a collection guide, also called a finding aid. While writing or editing the collection guide, we may contact you to make sure we're describing the records properly and have all the dates and department names correct.

Once the records are described, researchers can view the collection guide online, request materials, and use them in a reading room in Wilson Library or online in the Digital Collections Repository

Prep for Transferring Records

You may have records in your office that should be transferred to the University Archives for historical purposes. You will need to do some review to prepare records for transfer. The following steps will get you ready to work with us on transferring records to Wilson Library:

  • Survey the records to determine what you have.
  • Determine what records are scheduled for permanent retention in the University Archives. Remove duplicates and records that are not scheduled for permanent retention. (See Using the Records Schedule)
  • Flag permanent records that contain confidential or sensitive information.
  • House all files in folders and standard size (12″ x 15″ x 10″) boxes.
    • Remove hanging folders, as these crush the box and damage the files with time.
    • Move records from binders into folders, copying any title from the binder onto the new folders in pencil.
    • Replace damaged folders, copying the label from the damaged folder onto the new folder in pencil.
  • For digital records, contact University Archives staff to discuss preparation of the files or storage devices for transfer.
  • Schedule a consultation with University Archives staff. After the consultation, we'll ask you to complete a records transfer form describing the records you will be transferring to the University Archives and work with you to coordinate the transfer.