Thomas J. Frusciano
rev. December 1994
The Rutgers University Archives serves as the final repository for the historical records of Rutgers, The State University. 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 mission of the Rutgers University Archives is as follows:
The goal of the University Archives is 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.
The official records encompass those records or papers generated or received by the various administrative offices of Rutgers University in the conduct of their 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.
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:
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 the 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.
The University Archives collects all materials pertaining to the history of Rutgers University from its founding in 1766 to the present. In the process, it seeks to document the University's physical presence on its campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden as well as documenting the institution's impact on those communities. The collection is almost entirely in the English language but the Archives accepts foreign language material on the history of 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: convey knowledge, conduct research, confer credentials, foster socialization, promote culture, sustain the institution, and provide public service.
The Seven Functions Defined
The function "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. The function "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. The final function "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 center our attention on the objectives of the institution rather than 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.
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.
Access to the record series and collections of the Rutgers University Archives is 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. As an extension of this descriptive practice, the staff also enters bibliographic records in the Research Libraries' Information Network's Archives and Manuscripts Control (RLIN AMC) to enhance assess to the historical records of the University. These bibliographic records are loaded into IRIS, RUL's online public access catalog, to allow access to the Rutgers community as well as patrons searching IRIS from remote sites using the Internet. In conjunction with Technical, Automated, and Network Services of the Rutgers University Libraries, the University Archives staff catalogs Rutgers publications and special format material so that all the holdings of the University Archives will be represented in RLIN and IRIS.
To provide immediate access to records and collections, the staff has developed the Rutgers University Archives Information System, a data base system in Special Collections and University Archives designed to maintain control of historical records in the University Archives. Using a relational database management software system, the system allows the staff to create, maintain, and provide access to bibliographic and management information on university records, manuscript collections, Rutgers publications and reports, photographs, and memorabilia. The system also contains a special database of architectural plans and contracts for University buildings generated by the Offices of Facilities Design and Construction Management. Future developments for the Rutgers University Archives Information System will include a data base of historical data relating to Rutgers campuses, a historical facts data base on significant dates and events in Rutgers history, and administrative histories for the various administrative and academic units of the University as well as centers, institutes, student and affiliated organizations. The purpose of the database is to complement IRIS, which serves as the main bibliographic database for the University Archives when data for archival records are entered in RLIN and loaded into the Library's OPAC. The Rutgers University Archives Information System contains information captured at the point of acquisition and serves as an important reference tool for patrons of Special Collections and University Archives. It also provides access to specialized information on Rutgers history.
Since the historical records of Rutgers University are non-circulating, access is provided in the New Jersey Room of Special Collections and University Archives. Photocopying is provided to patrons within and outside the RUL system. Bibliographic data is provided in RLIN AMC, which has developed into a national data base for archival and manuscript holdings in the United States, and RUL catalog, IRIS. Both systems are accessible to users through the Internet. Finding aids can be shared through intra and interlibrary loan.
The University Archives staff has been quite successful in documenting many aspects of university life at Rutgers. The collection is particularly strong in the area of university administration, although there are units of the University for which little documentation has survived. There is need to develop strategies for collecting records of student life and targeting appropriate faculty papers. Another area of concern is the identification, appraisal, and retention of machine-readable data created at the University. Accessing this data becomes problematic when considering the vast changes in computer hardware and software over a relatively short time span.
In order to assure the retention of an adequate documentary record of the University, a comprehensive records survey must be conducted with emphasis on those administrative and academic units that have not transferred their inactive records to the Archives. At that time schedules can be developed to assure the proper disposition of records and the orderly transfer of historically valuable records into the Archives.
At present only minimal bibliographic control has been established on the extensive holdings of the University Archives. Along with emphasizing records management, the Archives staff will continue to process and create inventories and bibliographic records in RLIN AMC to facilitate assess to the archival holdings of Rutgers University. Cooperation with TAS will be sought to catalog serial and special format material so that all the holdings of the University Archives will be represented in the Rutgers University Libraries' online catalog.