Libraries & Centers: Special Collections and University Archives: University Archives:

Rutgers University Archives Documentation Policy Statement

I. MISSION STATEMENT

The Rutgers University Archives serves as the final repository for the historical records of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Its primary purpose is to document the history of the University and to provide source material for administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and other members of the Rutgers community, as well as scholars, authors, and other interested persons who seek to evaluate the impact of the University's activities on the history of American social, cultural, and intellectual development. The goals of the Rutgers University Archives are as follows:

  • Appraise, collect, organize, describe, make available, and preserve records of historical, legal, fiscal, and administrative value to Rutgers University.
  • Provide adequate facilities for the retention and preservation of such records.
  • Provide information services that will assist the operation of the University.
  • Serve as a resource and laboratory to stimulate and nourish creative teaching and learning.
  • Serve research and scholarship by making available and encouraging the use of its collection by members of the University and the community at large.
  • Promote knowledge and understanding of the origins, aims, programs, and goals of the University, and of the development of those aims, goals, and programs.
  • Facilitate efficient records management.

II. DESCRIPTION

The University Archives staff attempts to collect as comprehensively as possible those records that have enduring value to documenting the history of Rutgers University, its programs, services, and members of its community. Through a systematic records management program, only those records which maintain historical, administrative, legal, and fiscal value are identified and retained permanently.

A. TYPES AND FORMATS

1. Official records, papers, and publications of Rutgers University.

The official records encompass those records or papers generated or received by the various administrative offices of Rutgers University in the conduct of its business and which are preserved for their enduring value. These records include among many different forms correspondence, reports, and financial records. The University Archives also collects all publications, newsletters, or booklets distributed in the name of Rutgers, The State University including catalogs, special bulletins, yearbooks, student newspapers, University directories and faculty/staff rosters, faculty and administrative newsletters and publications, alumni publications, and ephemeral material. Audiovisual records documenting the development of the University such as photographs, negatives, slides, motion picture film, oral history interviews, audio and video tape, discs, and recordings are solicited as well as dissertations, theses, and scholarship program research papers of Rutgers students. Machine-readable data files generated for conducting University business will also be considered for permanent retention. The Archives will maintain all security copies of microfilm produced by any vital records program. Maps, prints, and drawings documenting the physical growth and development of the University form an important part of the collection. The archives also retains artifacts relating to the history of Rutgers University.

2. Personal and Professional Papers of Rutgers University Faculty

As an important part of its mission of documenting the internal life of the Rutgers University community and placing it in a broader societal context, the University Archives actively seeks to acquire, organize, and make available the personal and professional papers of the Rutgers University faculty. Rationale: Faculty papers offer insight into the history and operation of the University that otherwise may be lost by relying only on official administrative records. They reveal professional interests and opinions that frequently clarify matters mentioned in the official records of the central administration. Faculty papers document the academic life of the University and relate one's academic career to his or her total interests, thereby constituting an important record. Personal viewpoints expressed in private correspondence and documentation resulting from service on academic committees may provide a better basis for understanding the University than a much larger volume of official records from administrative offices. Without a broad range of faculty papers the formal official accounts of the University are often misleading. Criteria for Selection: The size of the Rutgers University faculty, and the available storage space and staff of the University Archives place limitations on the extent of collecting faculty papers. While attempting to acquire a broad range of personal papers, the Archives must be selective. The following criteria are applied when appraising and soliciting the personal and professional papers from the faculty:

  • National or international reputation in one's respective academic field.
  • Records of one's service with Rutgers University and contribution to its growth and development.
  • Service on the faculty of a recognized area of excellence within Rutgers University.
  • Service and contribution in community, state, and national affairs.

Types and formats: The following types of documentation reflect and illuminate the careers of the Rutgers University faculty and are sought by the University Archives: official, professional, and personal correspondence; biographical material; photographs; tape recordings; class lecture notes and syllabi; research files; departmental or committee minutes and records; drafts and manuscripts of articles and books written; and diaries, notebooks, appointment calendars, and memorabilia. The Rutgers University Archives is committed to preserving selected faculty papers and to making them available for research as soon as possible. At the same time, it has a certain obligation to guard against invasion of privacy and to protect the confidentiality in its records in accordance with law. Therefore, every private donor has the right to impose reasonable restrictions upon his or her papers to protect confidentiality for a reasonable period of time. Restrictions on access are for a fixed term and are determined at the time of donation. The Archives does not accept agreements that restrict access to material for the lifetime of any person or persons or agreements that are difficult or impossible to administer. It encourages minimal access restrictions consistent with the legal rights of all concerned.

B. FUNCTIONAL APPROACH TO DOCUMENTATING THE UNIVERSITY

The University Archives seeks to document the Rutgers University community, which includes the administration, faculty, students, alumni, and staff. In assessing records appropriate for permanent retention, the Archives attempts to document the University's role in higher education as it relates to seven functions common to academic institutions, as delineated in Helen Willa Samuel's Varsity Letters: Documenting Modern Colleges and Universities(1992): convey knowledge, conduct research, confer credentials, foster socialization, promote culture, sustain the institution, and provide public service.

The seven functions are defined as follows:

  • "Convey knowledge" incorporates the traditional mission of teaching at Rutgers University but recognizes that the mission actually encompasses both teaching and learning--the interaction of its faculty and students in the educational process. Teaching involves an analysis of the curriculum--its development and evaluation as well as the internal and external forces that influence its implementation. Teaching includes the faculty, and the methods used by that faculty to transmit knowledge. On the other side of convey knowledge is learning--the acquisition of knowledge
  • "Conduct research" is essentially the research function performed by the Rutgers faculty and students--the process of questioning and reinterpreting existing theories and knowledge and discovering new knowledge.
  • "Confer credentials" examines all the administrative activities that lead up to the award of a diploma which certifies the completion of a student's academic work at the University. Included in this function are recruiting activities, the selection and admission of students, financial aid and other methods of funding a student's education, academic and career advising and counseling, and finally, the graduation process itself.
  • "Foster socialization" encompasses the informal learning and socialization process that occurs in academic institutions--extracurricular activities, residential life, and personal counseling.
  • "Promote culture" centers on the institution as a "collector, preserver, and disseminator of information and culture" and includes among others the libraries and museums
  • "Sustain the institution" focuses on all the activities that are required for Rutgers University to assure its existence. This function includes governance, administration, personnel, funding, and the establishment and maintenance of the physical plant.
  • "Provide public service" covers those services and activities that Rutgers conducts for the benefit of outside communities. These include among many activities continuing education programs, service to community schools and organizations, sponsorship of academic and social programs, and making the institution's physical facilities such as the library or gymnasium available to the community.

An analysis of the functions performed by Rutgers University focuses our attention on purpose rather than structure. We examine the objectives of the institution rather than solely on organizational structure and the records themselves. From this analysis we discover how the functions have appeared at the University over time and how they overlap. The study of these seven functions and their associated activities assists in our appraisal decisions and identifies areas which may lack adequate documentation. Our documentation activities move beyond appraisal; they incorporate all activities that affect the documentary evidence including its creation, management and selection. Appraisal is one part of the complete documentation process.

The examination of Rutgers University by function identifies documentary issues specific to an area of responsibility and assists us in planning goals for identifying and in some cases, creating an adequate record. The documentary goals clearly reflect the historical development of Rutgers University as each of the seven functions manifests itself differently.

C. ARCHIVAL MATERIAL IN OTHER RUTGERS LIBRARIES

Though the University Archives is the central repository for Rutgers University, there are other collections of historical material relating to Rutgers in other areas of the University. While it is appropriate for libraries within the RUL system to collect publications and historical items related specifically to their campus or college, the official records of the University and all published items created by Rutgers University should reside in the University Archives. Consultation and cooperation between the University Archives staff and members of individual libraries will assure that a complete historical record of the University is located in the University Archives.

D. ACCESS TO RECORDS AND COLLECTIONS

Access to the record series and collections of the Rutgers University Archives is governed by a University Records Access Policy and facilitated by inventories, registers, guides, and indexes prepared by the staff for patron and staff use. These reports consist of histories and/or biographical sketches of the record creators, summary information on the series or collection, and detailed content information (see Finding Aids, Guides, and Databases to University Archives Collections). As an extension of this descriptive practice, the staff also enters bibliographic records into the Library Catalog, to allow access to the Rutgers community as well as patrons searching the Library Catalog from remote sites using the Internet. These records are also loaded into national catalogs such as the RLIN/OCLC databases to enhance assess to the historical records of the University. In conjunction with Technical, Automated, and Network Services of the Rutgers University Libraries, the University Archives staff also catalogs Rutgers publications and special format material so that all the holdings of the University Archives will be represented in the Library Catalog and RLIN/OCLC. The University Archives staff has also created several specialized databases for immediate access to its holdings and available for searching by staff as well as patrons visiting Special Collections and University Archives in Alexander Library.

Since the historical records of Rutgers University are non-circulating, access is provided in the New Jersey Room of Special Collections and University Archives in Alexander Library. Photocopying is provided to patrons within and outside the RUL system. Staff will provide research assistance for questions received by mail, telephone, or email.

For further information on the Rutgers University Archives contact Thomas J. Frusciano, University Archivist: fruscian@rci.rutgers.edu