Guidelines for Faculty Papers

University Archives collects papers of distinguished faculty who have demonstrated significant contributions to their respective field. Collecting in this area is selective based on correlation to other collecting priorities.

This includes collecting professional papers of faculty who have demonstrated:

  • Significant contributions to their respective field
  • Exemplary administrative and/or teaching contributions to the University
  • Correlation to the collection development mission of the Special Collections Library

Special Collections and University Archives have historically largely documented the achievements of a single demographic: white, male faculty. We now strive to bring about greater representation and welcome the papers of historically underrepresented faculty members. University Archives recognizes this effort to be a professional obligation and ethical imperative.

Evaluating Records

When evaluating your materials for donation to University Archives, it is important to consider the following questions:

  • Does this impact the understanding of your work, its impact on your field, and its role within the Penn State University community?
  • Would these materials be of interest to future students, scholars, or researchers?
  • Does this record relate to other documents your colleagues and professional communities will create and maintain?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then it should be considered for donation.

What to Keep

The following types of records (hard copy or digital) are generally what typically hold enduring or historical value:

  • Biographical information: CV’s and published and manuscript biographical sketches
  • University official correspondence and files: Outgoing and incoming letters and memoranda relating to departmental and University business, committee minutes, reports, and files
  • Professional correspondence (outgoing and incoming) with colleagues, publishers, professional organizations, and former students
  • Teaching material: One copy of lecture notes, syllabi, course outlines
  • Research and Publications: annotated copies, reports, grant materials, collected materials for research
  • Audio-visuals: Photographs, films, and sound and video recordings
  • Personal and family correspondence, diaries, photographs

Do Not Keep

  • Office copies of student and personnel records, including faculty dossiers, annual evaluations, promotion and tenure files, and search committee files. NOTE: These records are accessible via Human Resources records
  • Financial records, checks, receipts, travel forms
  • Conference materials other than copies own talks/speeches
  • Routine correspondence, especially non-personally addressed mail
  • Grade books and class rosters
  • Books, research papers, journal articles, and reprints written by other persons
  • Multiple copies of a single document
  • Blank forms
  • Artifacts and memorabilia like trophies, framed items, award plaques
  • PII & FERPA: Documents containing personal information such as medical information, social security numbers, passport and visa numbers, account and personal financial information, grades, GPA, etc.
  • Published works accessible via library catalog and databases

This list is a general guide. The work of each Penn State faculty can differ greatly. The materials we collect should document your impact in your field and the Penn State community, which can vary.

Organization of Your Papers

Materials should be arranged in the way that best suits your work and needs. Clearly label materials with dates, events, and names.

If you’re storing in boxes, create an inventory. If you wish to donate your materials to University Archives, an inventory will be helpful with the transfer process.

Donating to University Archives

If you are ready to donate your professional papers to University Archives, contact the University Archivist for guidance, instructions, and supplies—like boxes.

In most cases the following steps will facilitate the donation of your papers:

  1. The University Archivist will meet with you to discuss your work and contents of your papers to determine significance, based on the Special Collections Library’s Collection Development Plan. Based on the evaluation process detailed above, we will determine what is best suited for donation to archives
  2. Pack your records into boxes provided by the University Archives. Each box should be numbered and labeled with your name.
  3. Create an inventory of every file in each box. The University Archivist can provide a template. Email a copy of the inventory to the University Archivist and place a printed copy of each box’s inventory inside the box so it can be identified should it be separated from the others.
  4. Notify the University Archivist when you are ready to transfer the records to arrange pick-up.

You will also be asked to sign an agreement finalizing the donation of the records to the University Archives. This document, called a Deed of Gift, will legally transfer the ownership and rights of the records to the University Archives. Every Deed of Gift is different and we will work with you to determine what provisions are right for you.

Access to University Archives Collections

Collections in the University Archives are discoverable online via publicly accessible finding aids, and accessible to all researchers onsite in the Special Collections Reading Room. Please refer to the Special Collections homepage for more information about our research services and planning a visit.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

Ben Goldman
Interim University Archivist


Adopted from:

Transfer Faculty/Staff Papers.” University of Illinois Archives.