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Interested in donating student-created material to Historical & Special Collections? Use this page to learn about donating physical and digital material created through your involvement on campus or with student organizations, get some tips about how to organize your records, and insight about the deed of gift.

Preparing to Donate Material

  • Why share records with Historical & Special Collections?

    • Preserve your organization’s contribution to campus life.
    • Avoid re-inventing the wheel when new leadership takes over. Smooth the leadership transition, work more efficiently, and help document your institutional memory.
    • Ensure that the material is properly taken care of in the event that current platforms are no longer used or storage media becomes obsolete.
  • What kinds of student organization records can be donated to Historical & Special Collections?

    • Constitutions, charters, and by-laws
    • Meeting minutes
    • Flyers
    • Organization newsletters, anthologies, journals
    • Emails and other correspondence
    • Institutional histories
    • Audio/visual material: photographs, video

    What kind of records are not typically accepted?

    • Material with personally identifiable information (PII): social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc.
    • Financial records, checks, receipts
    • Trophies and plaques
  • What's involved in the donation/transfer process?

    1. Organize and select material you would like to share with HSC.
    2. Contact HSC at specialc@law.harvard.edu.
    3. Review your content with HSC staff. We’ll work with you to determine which records would be appropriate to share with or transfer to HSC.
    4. Sign a deed of gift outlining any restrictions on access for your donation and any material donated in the future.
    5. Provide contextual information about the documents.
    6. Share electronic documents and/or transfer physical documents.
  • When should we donate records?

    Your organization can share records with us at any time! We recommend that you think about doing so during office/locker clean-outs, leadership transitions, or between semesters.

  • Understanding the Deed of Gift

    Before sharing records with Historical & Special Collections, all donors must sign a deed of gift. The deed of gift requires a description of the material and provides an opportunity to place restrictions on access to material.

  • Tips for Student Organizations

    • Document your activities: save meeting minutes, flyers, and publications.
    • Keep records in one central place.
    • Store physical records away from dampness, dust, and excessive heat and sun.
    • Think about how you manage your electronic records: are they saved in a central location such as a shared Google Drive account? Who has access to it? Do you have a system for organizing the files?
    • Develop a routine of transferring records when new leadership takes over. Avoid having to “reinvent the wheel” when there is turnover in leadership!
    • Have ideas or information you want future organization leaders to know? Create a document or succession plans. Consider writing yearly reflections.
    • Designate among your leadership a position responsible for organizing files and creating a folder structure. Perhaps this could be your group’s historian, secretary, or vice president.
    • Do an audit of your records and record-keeping practices. Establish group norms around documentation.

    To quote our friends at the University of Illinois Student Life and Culture Archives… “When in doubt, don’t throw it out!”