The University of Illinois Archives is the repository for both the non-current records of the University and the personal papers of faculty, staff, alumni, and former students. The Archives preserves and makes these documents available to aid in research and instruction. Papers documenting the post-university careers of alumni are collected also to provide documentation that supports the research interests and needs of faculty and students and to strengthen holdings in subject areas of the Archives.* Alumni papers provide important insights into the history of the University and can provide a basis for research in broad areas of American life and culture. The following guidelines are intended to assist alumni and their families in identifying those portions of their files that are appropriate for transfer to the Archives.
Items likely to be of archival interest include:
- Biographical information: resumes, vitae, bibliographies, memoirs, genealogies, and published and manuscript biographical sketches;
- University of Illinois correspondence and files: outgoing and incoming correspondence, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks that provide documentation of college experience relating to enrollment, attendance, involvement in student and alumni organizations and activities.
- Professional correspondence (outgoing and incoming) with business associates, colleagues, and professional organizations;
- Personal correspondence with other University of Illinois alumni;
- Course material: class notebooks, student papers, exams, and correspondence relating to academic career at the University of Illinois;
- Publications: one copy of all articles, books, reviews, or works of art;
- Audio-visuals: photographs, films, and sound and video recordings;
- Family correspondence, diaries, photographs, and financial and legal documents, except where there is family interest in retaining and preserving such materials;
- Summary financial records where relevant to business and career activities documented elsewhere in the papers;
- Organizational records and correspondence relating to membership and participation in professional and social associations, clubs and societies.
* The University Archives Documentation Policy (1984, rev. 1996) states: “The collection of manuscripts not specifically related to the University of Illinois is focused on areas which are: 1) Logical extensions of the research strengths, interests and needs of the University faculty. 2) In areas that anticipate future research needs. 3) In fields where the Library has extensive holdings of published materials. 4) Where there is a high ratio of use to volume and processing costs. 5) Not in direct competition with a major collector in this region.”
Note: All information formats (e.g., published, typescript, audio-visual, and electronic data, such as computer disks and files) are appropriate for consideration for transfer. For documents in formats requiring any form of machine intervention, such as videotapes, kinescopes, and all computer files, consideration should be given to transferring the equipment needed to access the documents or, preferably, converting the documents to a format accessible to the Archives’ users. Early consultation with the Archivist is strongly encouraged for all such materials.
Documents which generally should not be transferred without prior consultation with the archivist include:
- Detailed financial records, canceled checks, and receipts;
- Routine correspondence, especially non-personally addressed mail and routine letters of transmittal and acknowledgment;
- Duplicates and multiple copies of publications: keep only the original and heavily annotated copies;
- Typescripts, drafts, and galleys of publications and speeches unless the final publication or presentation is unavailable;
- Books, research papers, journal articles, and reprints written by other persons;
- Research notes and data if a summary of the data is available and transferred; bibliographic notes and notes on reading. Because of wide variations in the nature of research data, it is best to consult with the Archivist before discarding research notes and data.
- Artifacts and memorabilia. The Archives does not collect non-documentary objects except in cases of great importance and a manageable physical size and condition. Please call the Archivist to discuss options for preservation of such objects.
Material should be transferred in the order in which they were maintained. A letter briefly identifying the material and describing the activity to which they relate should accompany the transfer.
This list is intended as a general guide. Because of broad variations in personal papers, it is advisable to consult with the Archivist to determine how your own files relate to these guidelines. Exceptions often are made after a review of the conditions under which the documents were generated and their potential usefulness. Please telephone the Archivist at (217) 333-0798.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DO NOT THROW IT OUT!