Records Management for Student Organizations: Donating to the University Archives

How to manage your group's records, what to keep and to discard, and how to donate materials to the University Archives

Best Practices for Donating to the University Archives

Student Organizations

When records are donated to the University Archives, they are arranged and stored in acid-free folders and boxes and kept in temperature and humidity-controlled conditions to ensure their long-term preservation. Once the collection of records is processed, the UA staff prepare an online finding guide that provides a brief description of the organization and an inventory of the records found in the archives. An example of such a guide can be seen regarding the records of The Varsity Show. Other student groups that have donated materials to the University Archives include Chicanx Caucus, Clefhangers, and Amateur Radio Club. Our collections are accessible for research in the RBML reading room

  • By archiving your organization’s records at the University Archives, you know that future members will have access to these resources when planning outreach and fundraising initiatives, when researching alumni and questions about past events and projects, and when looking for historic material to promote the group.
  • In making the decision to donate your records to the University Archives, discuss it with your organization’s membership and get everyone on board. If needed, the UA staff can arrange a visit to the RBML and meet with group members to answer questions.
  • Donating your organization's records is not a one-time event. Create documentation or assign the duty of maintaining a relationship with the archives to an officer, like a Historian or Secretary. The end of each academic year is a great time to review your group's records and determine what might be eligible for inclusion in the archives.
  • The University Archives also has some guidance on how to prepare your materials for donation. Please read our recommendations on how to pack boxes and how to transfer digital records.
Student Publications 

In addition to the student organization records, the University Archives actively collects student publications such as the student newspaper, the Spectator, the literary magazine The Blue and the White, the humor magazine The Jester, and the political magazine The Columbia Political Review.  Other publications can be found as part of the Historical Subject Files

  • The end of each academic year is a great time to review your group's output (all the issues of the publication issued that year) and determine what might be eligible for inclusion in the archives (published issues, group information, etc.).
  • You can also choose to donate individual issues, current or past, to be included in the University Archives holdings. Please bring no more than 3 copies of each issue to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. If you have a significant number of issues, please send us an inventory or contact so we can let you know what we already have in our holdings and what we are interested in to complete our runs.
Student Life in General

The University Archives welcomes donations of Columbia-related materials from students, student organizations, alumni and friends of Columbia University. We are interested in materials, both paper-based and digital, which document campus and student life such as:

  • Course materials, including notes, syllabi and assignments
  • Event posters, flyers, programs, tickets, scripts and scores
  • Journals, diaries, scrapbooks, letters
  • Photographs (preferably labeled)
  • Student group charters, by-laws, annual reports, minutes, membership lists, organizational histories
  • Publications, newsletters, brochures, booklets, websites
  • Other ephemera such medals, pins, banners, and commemorative items

If you have Columbia-related materials you wish to give to the University Archives, please contact and provide us with as much detail as possible about the material you wish to donate.

The University Archives reserves the right to de-accession files if they are obsolete, superseded, duplicated elsewhere, or otherwise irrelevant to the collection. For more information, see our Collection Policy. De-accessioned material will be discarded or redistributed to a more appropriate repository by University Archives staff unless the donor specifically requests the return of any unwanted material at the time of transfer/donation.

About the images

Left - Students sitting by the Low Plaza fountains. Scan 5029, 1975 Columbian; center - American Society of Mechanical Engineers - Management Division. Scan 4137, 1947 Columbia Engineer; right - Columbia Area Ambulance Volunteers. Scan 5032, 1987 Columbian.

Jester, April 1917

University Archives

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