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Donating Organizational Records

Please contact an archivist to discuss your potential donation before sending anything to the AJA. The Executive Director and archivists will make the decision to accept material based on the AJA collection policy. The following is excerpted from the Society of American Archivists' brochure, "A Guide to Donating Your Organizational Records to a Repository."

The heart of your organization's memory is in its records. If your organization values its history, you must act to save the original letters, minutes, reports, photographs, publications and other documents that officers, members, directors, employees, or volunteers have produced and compiled over the years. These documents provide unique testimony to the achievements of your organization. Such materials are also extremely valuable for administrative, legal, fiscal and public relations purposes. Your organization's history is important to your community, too. By donating your organization's records to an archival repository, you will assure that its history and heritage will be part of your community's collective memory.

What Documents Should Be Placed in an Archival Repository?

Many of the records produced by an organization have long-term value. A repository is interested in the records that best illustrate the purpose, activities, and policies of your organization. Such documents usually represent an "end product" — a final report, for example, instead of a draft. Archives are more interested in related groups of materials rather than individual items. Records should be inactive— that is, no longer regularly used for routine business. Before records are transferred to an archival repository, an archivist should survey your organization's papers to determine which materials have enduring historical value. Because the research value of records may be diminished if items are removed or rearranged, records should not be weeded, discarded, or rearranged before they are examined by an archivist. Listed below are some of the types of documentation which archival repositories preserve for historical and administrative research:

  • architectural records
  • articles of incorporation, charters
  • audio recordings
  • budgets
  • bylaws and revisions
  • clippings
  • constitution and revisions
  • correspondence of officers
  • directories
  • financial statements
  • handbooks
  • legal documents
  • memoranda
  • minutes of meetings
  • membership lists
  • motion picture film and videotape
  • newsletters and other publications (generated by the organization)
  • organizational charts
  • pamphlets, brochures, fliers, etc.
  • photographs
  • planning documents
  • press releases
  • reports (annual, committee, etc.)
  • rosters
  • scrapbooks
  • speeches
  • subject files

A repository may not accept everything that is offered to it because of staff and space constraints. An archivist can help you determine what documents or materials fall within the scope of the repository. If your organization's records are not appropriate for one repository, there may be another one to which they can be referred.