Archival Manual | Records Retention

Criteria for Retention of Museum Records

The archivist must be involved in the determination of how long and under what conditions particular records are to be kept. The criteria for permanent retention include:

  1. Evidence of the structure, development, mission and functions of the museum over time.
  2. Documentation of the actions, decisions, policies, and fiscal and legal rights and responsibilities of the museum.
  3. Research and informational value.

Guidelines for Retention of Email Correspondence

Significant correspondence recording significant transactions, projects, events and operations should be transferred to the Archives for permanent retention.

In order to determine whether or not correspondence is considered significant, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” once or more, the message should be permanently retained:

    1. Does this email establish policy or procedure?
    2. Does this email provide recommendations?
    3. Does this email describe administrative actions taken or planned?
    4. Does this email have legal or evidential value?
    5. Is the content of this email historically significant?

For email correspondence, you are only responsible for saving the final message of a thread as long as the full text of the interaction remains intact. Some types of messages fall outside the scope of the general records retention schedule and may be deleted immediately: General bulletins and announcements, duplicate copies of messages, drafts, meeting notices, and messages from mailing lists.

General Guidelines for Common Records

Record SeriesDescriptionTransfer to ArchivesComments
Budget filesAnnual departmental budget and working files (invoices, receipts, etc.)No
Building project recordsFiles, images, architectural drawings, etc. relating to the VSLBYes
ContractsOfficial contracts for goods, services, publications, etc.No
Correspondence, significantDeals with important projects, events, departmental operationsYes
Correspondence, routineDeals with routine administrative mattersNo
DeaccessionsSpecimens deaccessioned from collections as well as denied loans, gifts, and purchasesYes
Donors and giftsRecords regarding donations and development, thank you letters, etc.Yes
EquipmentMaintenance manuals, receipts, RFQsNo
Loans, incoming and outgoingSpecimens lent to the museum and by the museumNo
Retain in curatorial files
Meeting minutes and recordsMinutes, handouts, etc. for departmental meetingsYes
Memoranda, routineInternal communicationsNo
Memoranda, significantInternal communicationsYes
MVZ Printed material, non publicationBrochures, posters, outreach material, newslettersYesTransfer 2 copies
Non-MVZ printed material, non publicationBrochures, posters, outreach material, newslettersNo
Patron registrationPatron identificationNo
Personnel files, routineDepartmental copies of applications, time cards, evaluations, job descriptionsNo
Policy and procedural materialsHandbooks, manuals, and training materialsYesTransfer 1 copy
Professional papers and presentationsPapers related to committee, professional organizations and lecturesYesPlan with the Archivist
Projects, eventsRecords relating to events for exhibitions, fundraisers, etc.Yes
ResearchField notes and other dataYes