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Donating Student Organization Records

The history of South Dakota State University would be incomplete without including the lives and activities of its students. The university archives works with student organizations to ensure that their history is preserved.

What types of materials should be sent to University Archives?

The guidelines below were drafted to assist student organizations in determining which kinds of records are of potential historical. These records should be regularly and routinely transferred to the Archives. The guidelines reflect the types of records usually associated with student groups. However, the list is not definitive or exhaustive. Materials not specifically mentioned that contribute to documenting student activities are, of course, welcome.

  • Annual and other reports        
  • Audiovisual materials
    • Films, sound recordings and other audio-visual records created through activities, functions, facilities and its staff.
    • Film and video.
    • Must be identified in some way (such as dates, names or captions).
    • All formats are accepted, including digital.
  • Budgets
    • Summary reports and appendices only.
  • Bylaws and constitutions.
  • Calendars of events for the organization.
  • Charters and articles of incorporation.
  • Certificates and awards.
  • Committees and Councils Files.
    • Records concerning committees and councils that are internal to the student organization
    • Files may consist of minutes, proceedings, reports, notifications, correspondence and related files.
  • Correspondence files: Files of both general and internal organization correspondence. Widely distributed correspondence originating from office should be kept. This includes email.
  • History files.
  • General informational files on the development of the organization: May include notes, publications, newsletters, reports, correspondence, photographs and other related records.
  • Meetings files: May include memoranda, agenda, meeting minutes, reports and other related records.
  • Membership lists and directories of the organization.
  • Memorabilia.
  • News clippings and media coverage files.
  • Officer files: Records maintained by the organization’s officers concerning programs and activities. Files may include correspondence, memorandums, reports, directives and other related records.
  • Organization charts and officer lists.
  • Pamphlets, brochures, fliers and other promotional materials.
  • Photograph and scrapbooks: Photographic prints, negatives or digital images of the organization’s members and activities.
  • Policies, manuals and handbooks: Includes files and manuals specific to the organization and its functions.
  • Publications and newsletters: Publications created by the organization.
  • Speeches and presentations.
    • Scripts of speeches and presentations given by organization’s members.
  • Subject files.
  • Websites, blogs and social media files.


Preparing your files

This step-by-step guide covers the basics of preparing and sending your records to the archives. 

Where do I begin?

First, you should determine what files you have and how often you need to access them. If you have files that are important but are not needed for current business, please contact the University Archives and talk to us about the files you want to be transferred. We will provide you with a list of common types of records we would like to add to the Archives and common items that we do not accept in the archives. If you are unsure, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Where do I get boxes?

Bankers boxes with handles are recommended; however, the boxes used for reams of paper will also work. We can help you estimate the number of boxes you will need. Normally one file drawer 20 inches deep is equivalent to one archives box. Please let us know if you need assistance in boxing the files.

How do I prepare the files for transfer?

When you have the boxes, start by removing files from filing cabinets. Place the files into the boxes in the same order as they were in the cabinet. Please do not pack the boxes too tightly! You should be able to slide your hand into the box comfortably and the covers should fit snugly.

Create a brief summary description of the materials and include the relevant information:

  • Name of the organization.
  • Approximate date span of records.
  • Summary of contents (e.g., events and correspondence, 1980-1981; meeting minutes, 1991-1994).
  • Total number of boxes.

Number each box in pencil only in the following format: Box 1 of 2 Box 2 of 2.

Contact us when you're ready to arrange for the transfer.


What happens to the files after they are sent to the archives?

Our staff will review, organize, and describe the files. We will remove certain types of materials such as duplicates, routine transactional records (like travel vouchers), and certain types of personal information. We will also remove any materials that would be better suited for the library’s circulating collection instead of the Archives. If you have questions or concerns about materials being removed after you send the boxes to archives, please let us know as soon as possible.

Depending on the current filing scheme and the age and condition of the materials, we may physically rearrange the materials and re-folder some or all of the materials. Once that's done, we will prepare a summary description of the material with administrative information and a box container list. In some cases, we will prepare a more detailed folder listing. This information is compiled into a collection guide or finding aid that will go online and make the collection accessible to you, others in the university, and the public. You can look at some examples of finding aids on our website.

How will I access the files?

The files will always be available for your use onsite in the Archives, and reference service by phone or e-mail is available for many types of requests. The online finding aid will serve as your new list and you can reference it when you call us. In some cases, we can mark up your original list with the new box numbers and return it to you if you need it as a cross-reference. If this is a particular concern, please be sure to ask at the time of transfer.

Materials in the Archives are retained permanently with very few exceptions. Because the materials are rare or unique, they must be used onsite in our secure reading room. If you need copies, we can provide them to you according to our copying policy.

Please contact us in advance of your visit so that the materials will be ready for you in the reading room when you arrive. Some collections are stored offsite and may require a day or two to retrieve. In any case, we always appreciate advance notice if you plan to visit.

The Archives reading room is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and by special arrangement.

More questions? Contact us!