What do we Collect from Faculty?

Faculty Papers

Faculty papers are fundamental to documenting the historical development of the University. The nature of academic institutions is such that individuals play a key role in shaping policy. Operational and departmental lines of authority are often blurred within the university and, given this institution’s strong tradition of faculty governance, understanding and documenting the work of faculty members in all facets of the university is essential.

Faculty Governance and Committee Records

We emphasize collecting those records which are particularly important to the history of the university, and we seek your assistance (especially from departmental and committee chairs and others serving in administrative capacities) in collecting materials such as

  • standing and ad hoc faculty committee chair’s files
  • departmental executive committee meeting minutes and actions
  • divisional committee minutes and actions
  • departmental faculty meeting minutes
  • departmental chair correspondence and subject files
  • course proposals

Faculty Materials

We urge that those faculty members who have made major contributions to their discipline and/or to the university to contact the Archives. We are particularly interested in materials that

  • document an individual’s career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • expand on the faculty member’s relationships with his or her colleagues in the academic discipline at other institutions
  • preserve a record of committee responsibilities or other activities within the university community
  • support research discoveries or projects
  • document teaching (e.g., one copy of lecture notes, syllabi, course outlines, reading lists, exams and correspondence with students)

Materials may be in a variety of types and formats (including electronic) including some of all of the following: correspondence and subject files, reports (whether printed or not), diaries, photographs and slides, lab notebooks, scrapbooks, sound recordings, and artifacts.

Research Records

Research records can be quite complex and voluminous. They are of value both to support continuing research and to document past accomplishments. The University Archives will–within the limits of its limited resources–provide assistance to faculty members in the disposition of research materials. Scheduling research records so that they can be legally stored off site can be very beneficial both to the creating office and to the Archives in its efforts to preserve materials of enduring value.

Some legal obligations to retain research records may apply. Faculty policies relating to misconduct in scholarly research (Faculty Legislation, II, 314) obligate the university to investigate claims for a period of seven years. In addition, funding agencies and professional associations my have retention requires for research records.

What Doesn’t the Archives Collect from Faculty?

A depository for primary source documents, the University Archives generally does not collect secondary or published materials. While many faculty members have extensive reprint or book collections, unless items are of unusual significance (e.g. annotated by a major scholar in the field) the Archives does not retain them. We urge faculty members to work with the General Library System, their departmental library, or with their professional associations to find appropriate homes for their reprint or book collections.

In general, we do not collect materials related to people’s personal or family lives, including such things as personal financial records, cancelled checks, or correspondence with family and children. Other documents are captured directly from the relevant offices, so we are not interested in student academic information, grades, class rosters, etc. We also have limited facilities for preserving large artifacts or memorabilia.

A person whose career spanned several institutions may wish to consolidate his or her collection in a single place; at times a professional society may offer a more appropriate repository. A faculty member’s personal and family papers may be so closely related to his or her career that it is best to maintain the entire collection in the University Archives.

So if you are uncertain about whether to incorporate a particular record item with your papers, or if you have questions about an appropriate repository, please contact the University Archives. We are always happy to advise you about the disposition of your papers.

When in doubt, please don’t throw it out! Contact the Archives first.

Additional Information

How Does One Prepare Materials for Transfer to the Archives?

The materials must be packed in State Records Center storage cartons (Materials Distribution Service # Stock No. 3189) and accompanied by a completed University Archives Information Resources Inventory form. The material, if paper records, must be in file folders (please do not send hanging files; transfer the material to labeled manila folders), along with an inventory.

What are Faculty Obligations for Records Scheduling?

In Wisconsin, all state agencies are required to file a records schedule or Records Retention Disposition Authorization with the Public Records Board prior to disposing of any records. Administrative and research records may need to be scheduled (appraised to determine appropriate retention and disposition decisions). Traditionally, the faculty papers at this institution have been treated as personal property, not institutional property, and have not required scheduling.