University of Chicago Administrative Records Survey


In 2012, at the request of the University Provost and the Secretary of the University, the University of Chicago Archives launched a campus-wide University administrative records survey.

The purpose of the survey is to assess the current status of inactive administrative records across the University (those no longer in regular or routine use) and to identify those records that are of historical value and not yet preserved in the University Archives.

An archivist will arrange visits to University offices to physically review inactive administrative files and will consult with your office about the management and transfer of inactive administrative records to the University Archives.

What is a University administrative record?

A University administrative record is information or data in a fixed form that is created or received in the course of official University activity and kept as evidence of that activity. University administrative records may be in any format, including text, images, sound, or sometimes artifacts. Administrative records can be on a variety of media from paper, to magnetic tape, to the digital files on your computer.

What is the administrative records survey?

The administrative records survey is the process of gathering information about the content and function of the inactive administrative records in your workplace.

Why conduct the administrative records survey?

The administrative records survey supports good records management and assists in the preservation of University history. Effective records management ensures that inactive, but valuable, records are safely and regularly transferred to the University Archives where they sustain the University's institutional memory and support future scholarship.

What can I expect during the administrative records survey visit?

An archivist from the University Archives will work with your office to arrange an onsite visit. During this visit, the archivist will work with you to identify inactive administrative records of historical value in both paper and electronic format in your office and compile an inventory of these records currently stored in your workplace. The survey will require access by the archivist to any and all records storage areas including basements, closets, file cabinets, and computers, possibly over the course of several days.

If deemed appropriate within the scope of University Archives records policies, this visit may result in the transfer of inactive administrative records to the University Archives. Transferred inactive administrative records will always be accessible to your office. The administrative records survey will not involve transfer of any records that are regularly and actively used by your office.

What kind of information will be collected during the records survey visit?

The archivist will collect data about the content, dates, volume, format, organization, condition, storage, and use of your inactive administrative records. She will ask questions to determine the context in which any inactive records are still being used.

What types of University administrative records have permanent historical value?

The University Archives preserves the following kinds of administrative records:

  • Correspondence and memoranda
  • Organization charts
  • Annual reports
  • Subject or program files
  • Minutes of boards, committees, and working groups
  • Annual budget summaries, endowments, grant proposals, gift and grant reports
  • Curricular materials and course descriptions
  • Faculty appointment files, resumés, bibliographies
  • Files on scholarships, fellowships, awards
  • Materials on University-hosted conferences, symposia, lectures, events
  • Alumni and development campaign publications, solicitations, reunion documents
  • Publications including magazines, newsletters, brochures, pamphlets, directories, and posters (two copies each)
  • Press releases, announcements, or other types of publicity
  • Photographs, film, videos, audio recordings, or other media formats
  • Blueprints, floorplans, and campus maps
  • Memorabilia

What types of administrative records are not retained by the University Archives?

The University Archives does not retain duplicate or extraneous materials. These include:

  • Routine biweekly and monthly account ledgers
  • Routine purchase requests, orders, invoices, petty cash account statements
  • Multiple duplicate copies of publications, form letters, brochures, pamphlets
  • Office equipment and supply catalogs
  • Envelopes and routing slips
  • Blank forms
  • Records not produced by your office and duplicated elsewhere

Does the University Archives preserve email and digital files?

Yes! The University Archives preserves correspondence, documents, and other materials in all formats, including email and computer files. Archives staff will be glad to discuss the process for transferring these types of materials to the University Archives digital repository.

How can my workplace prepare for the administrative records survey visit?

Consideration of the following questions ahead of an archivist's visit will aid in an effective administrative records survey:

  1. What are the functions of your department?
  2. Is your department organized into divisions or sections?
  3. Does your department operate special programs?What are the department-wide committees?
  4. What is unusual or unique about your department?
  5. What is most important to document about your department?
  6. Which records best "tell the story" of your department?
  7. Does your department have records of historical value?
  8. What electronic systems are used in the department?
  9. Who can provide access to these systems?
  10. Are there non-current departmental records stored in places other than the office filing areas? If so where? Who can provide access to these areas?
  11. Has a departmental history or overview ever been written?


If you wish to contact the University Archives for further information about the administrative records survey, we welcome your questions:

Contact Information

University of Chicago Archives
Special Collections Research Center, JRL130