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Documenting Davidson College - Records Management

This guide explains how and why the College Archives collects materials from the Davidson community including information about Records Management policies and procedures.

Guidelines for Email Retention - Capstone Approach

The Davidson College Archives staff follow the National Archives' Capstone Approach to capturing email.   

How to identify email accounts to review and save?
When following the Capstone approach, employees identify those email accounts that will most likely contain records of enduring value.  According to the National Archives, "The goal is to capture the email accounts of  policy and decision makers-- including any secondary or alias accounts-- and the accounts of those authorized to communicate on their behalf in the development of agency policy or important decision-making."  Email relating the mission or charge of an entity would also be considered a Capstone account.

Some examples of  positions likely holding Capstone accounts include the President, Vice Presidents, heads and directors of departments, offices and centers; their deputies and assistants; heads of program offices and staff offices including assistant secretaries and administrators special assistants, confidential assistants, and administrative assistants to any of the positions mentioned above. 

Federal Statues

Guidelines for Digital Files

Records of the college that are stored electronically (whether they are born digital, received, or maintained in this form) should not be maintained only on removable storage media such as external or USB drives or local hard drives or desktops. Better storage options are network drives, College-procured Cloud storage, and content management systems.

Format for Individual Records and Folders

Meaningful Names: Folder and document names should help identify the contents and reflect the functions and actions.  Please avoid using vague terms such as “Misc.”  Whatever options are chosen, the conventions should be documented and used consistently.

Dates: For example, dates of minutes and agendas, use one of the following formats,  yyyymmdd or yyyy-mm-dd. If the date is listed first, it’s easy to sort materials chronologically, especially when you’re looking for something.

Role or Positions: Often, it is better to name a document or folder based on the role rather than personal names. For example, a file labeled "VPAA Committee" is easier to find years later than one labeled "SmithBR Committee."  

Names: If the author is especially important or a way to distinguish a file or folder, write the last name of a person, followed by 2 initials, if possible, such as FoxAR_Memo .

Numbers: Use at least two digits when using a number in a title to keep the documents and folders in numerical order, e.g. use 01 instead of 1.  If you are unsure how many leading digits you should use, determine the number of related files you might create with the same file name. For every 100 files, add a leading zero (e.g. if you create 1000 files, your numbering scheme should start with 0001).

Versions: Some documents go through a number of stages. Where applicable, it is important to differentiate between these,    e.g. 2016_ECM_Minutes_draft,  2016_ECM_Minutes_final, or versions 1, 2, 3 indicated by v01, 02, 03.


Extra Tips for Individual Records and Folders

Avoid the use of  certain symbols, such as ~ " # % & * : < > ? / \ { | }. , since the computer may misinterpret the symbol. Hyphens and underscores are encouraged.

Use hyphens or underscores to separate words  instead of periods, spaces, or commas.  For example, use “Business _Services” instead of “Business Services.” When converting or migrating files, spaces in file names create extra characters; the new title becomes Business20%Services20%.  Avoiding spaces will help keep file names shorter and avoiding commas and periods will confuse the computer less.

Avoid repetition and redundant words in folder and file names.

Avoid using acronyms or abbreviations, if at all possible and especially if they are not common to most people.  If you have to use an acronym, create a ReadMe document that explains the term. 

Do not use words that are excluded from searches  such as if, but, so, for, etc.

Avoid using articles such as the, a, an, unless the article is part of a proper noun.

If possible keep the document and file name short but with an accurate description of the material.  Some operating systems and software have a limited number of characters so try to limit to 200 characters or fewer.  


Organization of Records and Folders  

The overall organization of digital files and folders mirrors the organization of physical files.

If there are more than 3 related files, it would be advantageous to create a folder.

If possible, create folders that refer to a single topic or have a common purpose or format e.g. financial, Orientation 2022.

Create a hierarchy of folders using sub-folders for specific time periods or types of records e.g. Financial folder and sub-folder Budget or Correspondence,  sub-folder Department Name Change 

If possible, do not keep the same file in multiple folders.

Keep reference and personal materials separately from official records.

If possible, each year, create a spreadsheet that lists the folder name, description, a couple of keywords, plus bulk start and end date of the content.

If possible, each year review file folders and close most at the end of the year.  If there are numerous drafts and working copies, eliminate those wherever feasible.    

Open new file folders in the new year and bring forward only the material that is still active.


Records We Do Not Collect - Examples

Specific Examples

Accounting Records and records of specific financial transactions

Payroll Records

Active Faculty and Academic Staff Personnel Files

Personnel Evaluations

Association and Organization Files (not related to or affiliated with Davidson College)

Preliminary drafts of correspondence, memos, and internal notes that do not reflect significant steps or changes in the final document

Bank and Financial Statements

Published Statutes, Laws, Regulations, etc. 

Benefit Records Purchasing Records including Purchase Orders and IDOs
Bills and Receipts Readers Files

Blank forms and unused printed or duplicated materials

Rejected or Not-funded Grant Proposals and Files

Budget Files (Working Papers)

Replies to questionnaires if the results are recorded and preserved either in a summary and shared with the Archives or in a published report

Cash-Books, Day-Books, and Cash-Journals Reprints (Non-faculty, staff or alumni and Non-college Publications)


Routine correspondence that does not show any significant activity of the area or department including correspondence for request, transmittal and acknowledgement, if the correspondence does not add any information to the transmitted material.

Duplicate Copies

Staff Personnel Files

Employment Application Files

Student Records

Employment Eligibility Verification Records

Teaching Evaluation Records (unless part of promotion or tenure dossiers)

Equipment Inventory or Purchasing Files

Time and Attendance Records or Reports

Exams and Term Papers

Unsolicited Job Application Files

Grade Books and Rolls


Grievance Files (Personnel)

Warrantees and Guarantees



Leave Records

Work papers, drafts of reports, worksheets and other documents which have been published or of which there is a final copy in the archives  

Mail and Phone Logs


Medical Records

Operating Manuals (Equipment)  


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