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Documenting Davidson College History

Documenting Davidson College History

Donating Student Organization Records

The College Archives serves as the recorded memory of Davidson College and its surroundings and as such is an important part of its community, providing cultural, official, and unofficial history. As the largest demographic at the college, the documentation of student work and diversified student experiences is of paramount importance to the accurate representation of the college's story. 

You and your collaborators need to sign a "Deed of Gift" to donate student group records, but before completing this form, you may want to consider the following questions:

1. What types of records does the archives collect?

It depends! Some examples include: meeting minutes, posters, pamphlets, basic webpages, protest statements, photographs, oral history interviews, and scrapbooks. We try to collect materials that are representative of the organization and useful for future researchers so that means many of these decisions start with you!

2. How do I donate physical records?

We ask individuals to make appointments so we can ensure someone is here when you deliver physical records to the Rare Book Room on the second floor of E.H. Little Library. If possible, we would prefer materials to be arranged in labeled boxes, envelopes, or folders (depending on the size of your collection) with an inventory and we are happy to help you with this! We have a supply of boxes and folders you would be able to use. The goal is to ensure your records are easily identifiable as a grouping.

3. How do I donate digital records?

The archives currently offers two options for the donation of digital records depending on the service you are most familiar with or are comfortable using. 

The first option is a folder transfer using Google Drive. This process will look different depending on your organization's record keeping practices, so we recommend making an appointment to go over logistics. 

The second option is receiving an invite to add files to a Dropbox folder. This process will look different depending on your organization's record keeping practices, so we recommend making an appointment to go over logistics. 

4. Who has access to our records?

It depends! Our open collections are accessible to all members of the college community, as well as outside researchers. If you have concerns about who can access the records of your organization, see question 5. 

5. Some of our records contain personal or private information. What can we do?

You have several options. We do not collect materials with student grades or disciplinary information, so those materials would need to be removed before donating. If there are individuals who are not comfortable with their name being in the record, you can "redact" or "remove" those names from the record (sometimes this is as simple as physically blacking out a name in the minutes). You can also request certain records to be "restricted" meaning only certain people could access them or no one can access them. Another way to restrict records is to close them for a limited time period e.g. 25 years. We can work with you to determine access restrictions throughout the donation process.

6. We have records we are still updating. Would we donate these records to the Archives?

No. The archives collects "inactive" materials meaning no other edits are to be made and the records no longer need to be immediately accessed. 

7. We inherited these records when someone left the college. Can we donate these records to the Archives?

It depends.  A good question to ask would be who created the records? Are we able to contact them and get permissions? Under who's authority were the records created?

8. When will we have access to the records we donated?

It depends. Sometimes the processing of a collection takes several years. Individuals are sometimes able to access unprocessed materials, but there can be a waiting period before collections are completely organized with a finding aid online.  We're happy to have a volunteer from the organization process the papers after the donation has been completed (or even before).   

9. Why does the archives ask for a copyright transfer?

You own your work so you have the authority to sign over copyright. We typically ask for this because a major tenant of archival practice is "access." When an archives has copyright, we become the sole entity responsible for maintaining the integrity of materials (transferring items to new formats - i.e. cassette tapes converted to mp3 files), as well as giving individuals permission to access and/or publish materials. This is how you are able to use materials from over 100 years ago, today - someone gave the archives the right to grant that access.

If you are uncomfortable with transferring copyright to the archives, you can complete our Creative Commons Deed of Gift form. With this form, you retain the rights to your materials, meaning that when someone wants to quote and publish from the records, they will contact you or your organization directly for permission. It would also mean that researchers could not publish pieces of this work in for-profit mediums (like books, etc.) without your expressed permission.

10. How often should we donate our organization's records?

It depends! We recommend donating records on an annual basis to account for membership changes and organizational transitions.

Questions? Need help? Ask Us
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