University Archives Documentation Policy 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. 


The University Archives, established by the Board of Governors in 1975 and as authorized by University Policy 30.4.5 (see appendix) , appraises and selects for permanent retention only those records, in any format, which maintain historical, administrative, legal, and fiscal value for Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.  The University Archives collects and preserves official records of offices of the university created in the conduct of its business as well as administrative records of student organizations and Rutgers-affiliated groups, select personal papers of faculty, staff and alumni, publications distributed in the name of Rutgers University including newsletters, yearbooks, directories, catalogs, and ephemeral material, and a wide range of audio-visual materials including photographs, sound and moving image material, and electronic records. 

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 as well as the University Archivist’s  appraisal expertise along with best practices for institutional archives administration , only those records which maintain historical, administrative, legal, and fiscal value are identified and retained permanently. 

The University Archives and Records Management Department work as partners to ensure that the recorded information of the University (“records”) are systematically controlled from creation or receipt, through processing and use, until final disposition. Final disposition will be through destruction or transfer into the University Archives.  Proper records management satisfies compliance with laws and regulations while ensuring that historically significant records are properly preserved. 


A. 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 can exist in any format including correspondence, reports, and financial records, among others. 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 scholarship program research papers of Rutgers students. Machine-readable data files (“electronic records”) generated for conducting University business is also 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. 

B. 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. 


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. 


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 Rutgers University Libraries 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 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 QuickSearch, to allow access to the Rutgers community as well as patrons searching QuickSearch 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 QuickSearch 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 Libraries system. Staff will provide research assistance for questions received by mail, telephone, or email. 

For further information on the Rutgers University Archives contact Erika Gorder, Associate University Archivist

1994, 2002, Rev. EG 5/2020 






University Archives Founding February 14, 1975: 

Authorized by the Rutgers University Board of Governors (endorsed by the University Senate) 


“I.  The Rutgers University Archives is the official archival agency of the University.  The objective of the Archives shall be to collect, preserve and administer the archives of the University and all other records necessary to document the University’s history.” 

“II.  The Committee on Archives shall direct the University Archives, establish policies and programs, and recommend the Archives’ budget.  The Committee shall be composed of five members:  the Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs, the Senior Vice-President and Treasurer, the Secretary of the University, the University Historian and the University Librarian, or their respective representative.  The Librarian shall be chairperson of the Committee and the Archivist shall be a member, ex officio, and shall serve as secretary.  This Committee shall be responsible to the Board of Governors with questions of policy to be reviewed by the University Senate.” 

“III. The Archivist shall manage and administer the University Archives in accordance with policies and programs approved by the Committee on Archives. The Archivist shall be qualified by professional training or experience, shall hold a faculty appointment, and shall be a member of the University Library faculty.  For administrative purposes the Archivist shall report to the University Librarian.” 


Rutgers Policy 30.4.5  Records Management 


Policy Statement 

The university recognizes that the efficient management of its records, regardless of their form or medium, is essential to support its core functions, to comply with its legal and regulatory obligations, and to contribute to the effective overall management of the institution. The university further recognizes that proper methods of records disposal and the determination of what records should be stored in the University Archives for permanent preservation is an important responsibility. This document provides the policy framework through which to meet this responsibility. 




Records management is the systematic control of recorded information from creation or receipt, through processing and use, until final disposition. Final disposition will be through destruction or transfer into the University Archives.  Proper records management satisfies compliance with laws and regulations, and ensures that historically significant records are properly preserved. 

This policy provides direction on records management to ensure that the university complies with federal, state, and other regulatory guidelines.  Therefore, university faculty and staff shall: 

  • Retain records according to established Records Retention Schedules  

  • Maintain active and inactive records in appropriate storage equipment and locations  

  • Preserve records of historical significance 

  • Protect sensitive information using secure methods of recordkeeping and disposal 

  • Identify and protect vital records 

  • Discard (in an approved manner) records that are no longer required 

No employee has, by virtue of his/her position, any personal or property right to official records even though he/she may have helped develop or compile them.  The unlawful destruction, removal from files, and personal use of official university records is strictly prohibited. 



Definition of a Record 

University records are defined as any and all data or information in a fixed form and in any format that is created or received in the course of institutional activity and retained as evidence of that activity for future reference. Records include all textual or printed materials including, but not limited to, papers, manuscripts, correspondence, books, maps, drawings, plans; microfilm, photographs, sound and moving image recordings, electronic data and/or machine readable data on all mediums or other documentary materials regardless of physical form and characteristics 

Archival Records 

Archival records are defined as any and all data or information in a fixed form and in any format that is created or received in the course of institutional activity and are permanently retained because of their enduring informational, evidential, and historical value. 


Rutgers Records Management Guidelines 

Records Retention Schedules 

7 Conditions for Records Retention and Disposition 

  1. This schedule is part of the Rutgers University Policy for Records Management. 

  1. This schedule supersedes previously approved applicable schedules. 

  1. "All known audits and audit discrepancies regarding the listed records must be settled before the records can be destroyed." 

  1. "All known investigations or court cases involving the listed records must be resolved before the records can be destroyed. Knowledge of subpoenas, investigations or litigation that reasonably may involve the listed records suspends any disposal or reformatting processes until all issues are resolved." 

  1. "The retentions and dispositions listed on the schedule apply regardless of physical format, i.e., paper, microfilm, electronic storage, optical imaging, etc."  

  1. "The "Office of record" must ensure that information in confidential or privacy protected records is protected from unauthorized disclosure through the ultimate destruction of the information. Normally, destruction of confidential or privacy-protected records will be done by shredding or pulping. "Deletion" of confidential or privacy-protected information in computer files or other electronic storage media is not acceptable. Electronic records must be "wiped" clean or the storage media physically destroyed.  

  1. For historically significant "Permanent" records, the University Archives is the official repository. The Archives may purge select records in accordance with professional archival practices in order to ensure efficient access.