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Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries

Special Collections
and University Archives

Transferring Material

Vanderbilt University Archives

Phone: (615) 322-2807
Mailing Address:
Vanderbilt University Archives
Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-2427

About Us
Collecting Areas
Transfer Material
Finding Aids and Holdings
Record Group Listing
Library History

The Basic Process:

Call us (615-322-2807).
When you feel you have records that need to be transferred to the archives, the first step is to call us. We will then either meet with you or talk with you by phone about the nature of your records and the suitability of their being transferred to the archives.

box comparisonAppraise your material.
If the records are already in boxes, then we will make arrangements to pick up your records and transfer them to the Annex. If the records have not been boxed, then we will provide boxes for you. Our boxes are standard acid-free cubic foot archival boxes.

It is not uncommon for departments to have already acquired boxes on their own for transferring records to the archives. There are a few issues that can occur when this is done. If the records have been placed in boxes other than our archival boxes, we will transfer the records from those boxes to our own boxes. Common types of boxes used for storage (standard office file boxes, copy paper boxes, whiskey boxes, long transfer boxes) are not acid-balanced, a necessity for long-term storage. The long transfer boxes also frequently weigh more than 50 or 60 pounds and are awkward for one person to handle; our standard shelving setup is not designed to handle these larger boxes. We need our boxes to maintain uniformity for stacking purposes on the shelves.

Placing your material in folders with meaningful titles will help us tremendously when we process your collection. When a set of loose papers is encountered during processing, we still folder them for preservation purposes, but we cannot always determine the subject of the material at hand. You are most familiar with your own material, so making sure everything is foldered and labeled before sending the records to us will ensure that your collection is properly indexed and accessible in the future. We also ask, if at all possible, that you do not use paper-backed labels on your folders. Over time, the adhesive backing is no longer effective, and the label falls off of the folder. Foil-backed archival labels or even hand-written titles are better alternatives.

Complete a Records Transfer Form.
You will be provided with a transfer form at the time of the records transfer. It is generally self-explanatory, but there are a couple of fields that need to be emphasized. The description of records is important, but it only needs to be a general description of the records being transferred and a general date range. Hopefully, you will have included an inventory with the transfer that will provide greater detail. The other critical field is the Restrictions field. When records are transferred to the archives, they are considered a part of the archives collections. Unless instructed otherwise, the files will be made available to any researcher requesting them. If these are records that you do not want released to researchers, you may want to consider stipulating that they be restricted for a given period of time.

Arrange a pickup time.
If you have 40 or fewer boxes to be transferred, we will pick up the boxes. If there are more than 40 boxes, we may ask that the department bear part of the burden by helping us transfer the boxes to the annex.

You may access your material at any time.
Access will always be available to the office or department to which the records belong. Generally, if a file is needed in the office of record, it can be requested by phone (615-322-2807) or e-mail ( ) and hand-delivered to the office within a reasonable period of time -- usually 24 hours. If extended research spanning several boxes is desired, you may come to our offices and examine the material at your convenience -- just give us 24 hours notice so that we can bring your boxes over from the annex.

Returning Records
When records are retired to the archives, they are considered inactive. However, sometimes things come up and records are required again. Sometimes records are sent to the archives by mistake. We have no problem with returning such records to the office of record. You must complete a Records Return Form for approval. After the records have been in the archives for an extended period of time (several years) and have been processed, we may be reluctant to return them to the office of record permanently.

Destroying Records
Some departments send us non-permanent records that must be destroyed after a certain amount of time passes (usually a few years). Some examples of this include applications for admission to the university, and some types of financial records. If records are to be destroyed, they should be specified as such when your Records Transfer Form is submitted. At the time of the requested destruction, we also require that you submit a Records Destruction Form, which officially gives us permission to perform the destruction. The material is professionally shredded, which costs approximately $6.00 per box; the department to which the records belong is responsible for payment.

stacks in the ArchivesWhat we do with your records

When we receive materials, we:

  • place them in our archival boxes (if they aren't already)
  • assign each box a unique number
  • place each box on the shelf.

In due time, we will process the records. Processing entails going through the files one at a time for inventory purposes. We:

  • remove damaging materials, including paper clips (will rust onto the paper), rubber bands (will dry out/crumble and attach itself to the paper), and plastic binders
  • remove duplicate and unrelated materials
  • number the folders and label them with record group and box information
  • compress the contents down so that the boxes are reasonably full
  • enter the folder and box information into a database for future reference
  • return the boxes to the shelves until they are needed for reference

Important Forms

This is a quick listing of the forms mentioned in the explanations above. You can send scanned copies of completed forms to us by e-mail or send it to us through campus mail (205 General Library Building).

Records Transfer Form
Complete this form when transferring records to the archives, whether the records are archival or non-permanent.

Records Destruction Form
The Destruction Form is to be completed when your department's records are ready to be destroyed. A destruction date was requested on the Transfer form when the records were submitted to the archives. When that date arrives, the specified records cannot be destroyed until this form is completed.

Records Return Form
If at some point in the future you need your records returned to you, whether it be temporarily or permanently, a Records Return Form must be submitted.

Note: Our forms are in PDF format. Get Adobe Reader Here.