Donation and Transfer Guidelines

Founded in 1969, the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) collects, preserves, and provides access to documentation of the experiences, achievements, and memories of people and organizations reflecting the university's major research areas, with a special commitment to documenting the history of the university. For more details on what is collected, please see the Collections Policy. Donations of archival materials regularly include the transfer of title and intellectual property rights held by the donor to SCUA through a Deed of Gift agreement.

Materials Typically Collected

  • SCUA collects inactive records: records that are no longer used in the day-to-day course of business. A rule-of-thumb is that records created five years ago or more are more likely to be inactive. Keep in mind that some records (such as business registration and non-profit status documents) will always be active records.
  • SCUA collects records of permanent research value (see specific guidelines below).
  • SCUA collects both paper and electronic records (see "Digital or Electronic Records" section below).

Records of permanent research value tend to document major decisions (as with meeting minutes and reports), summarize detailed information (annual or quarterly reports, rather than monthly or weekly), and/or be final versions rather than drafts. For individual or family papers, coherent bodies of records, rather than individual items, are generally preferred. Records for retention may include, but are not limited to:

  • Annual reports
  • Letters, Correspondence, E-mail
  • Minutes and Reports
  • Constitution and by-laws
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Membership information
  • Newsletters and publications
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • General Administrative Files
  • Websites
  • Architectrual Drawings/Plans 
  • Clippings (except for University Archives)
  • Photographs (Identified with Pencil)
  • Films and Videotapes (Labeled)
  • Diaries
  • Memoirs and Reminiscences
  • Scrapbooks and Photograph Albums
  • Subject Files
  • Speeches, Lectures, and Presentations
  • Professional Papers
  • Committee & Council files
  • Teaching files

Materials Typically Not Accepted

Records that do not generally have permanent value include transactional documents (receipts, bills of lading, purchase orders, etc.), detailed information where summary information exists (daily financial transactions vs. annual reports), drafts of documents where a final version exists (excluding literary manuscripts). Please check with an archivist before discarding anything, but some general guidelines include the following kinds of material:

  • Applications for Employment
  • Bank Statements
  • Budget Files (excepting annual reports)
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Contracts/Leases
  • General Conference Records
  • Personnel Files
  • General Financial Records (past 7 years should be kept for auditing purposes — these are active records)
  • Attendance Lists
  • Maintenance service files
  • Supplies and Equipment Records
  • Telephone Bills
  • Travel Reimbursement Files
  • Surplus Property Files
  • Receipts
  • Purchase Orders
  • Mailing Lists
  • Routine or transitory correspondence*

Digital or Electronic Records

Generally, we prefer to collect the format that is considered the original or the final copy for distribution of a document. See some examples below:
  • A paper document that was scanned: we prefer the paper document
  • An email newsletter: we prefer the digital newsletter, rather than a print-out
  • A newsletter that was composed on a computer, but printed and mailed to subscribers: we prefer the paper version
Please send the record copy (the original or official copy for reference and preservation) of a document, rather than duplicate copies.
Please let us know if you have electronic records. We would like to discuss them with you!

Website Preservation

Special Collections and University Archives currently has a subscription to Archive-It, which is a website preservation program that allows institutions to select and permanently capture webpages. Using this tool, SCUA currently archives the websites of many of the organizations whose records it holds.

Donating Materials to SCUA

Please fill out the Donation/Transfer Form if you are interested in donating materials. An archivist will contact you to discuss the donation.

  • If possible, please include an inventory of box contents with each box, including the title and date span of each folder (Inventory Template)
  • If transferring digital files, please discuss the best procedure for transfer with an archivist
  • Preparing materials for transfer:
    • If possible, please remove folders from hanging files
    • Include the sender’s name and address
    • Inform the archivist of the upcoming shipment, including of boxes to expect

* Examples of routine or transitory correspondence include letters of transmittal, requests for publications, internal meeting notices, conference planning details.