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Harvard University Archives
Donating Materials: Managing Faculty Files
 
 

Managing Faculty Files

 

The Harvard University Archives is interested in both collecting personal faculty archives and assisting faculty – and faculty assistants – with managing the University records faculty members created or that are in their care.

This information is intended to provide general guidelines for all faculty members at Harvard in managing a wide range of both personal and professional files and related University records. The intent is to recommend simple categories for the various files and records and to offer basic information on how those materials can best be maintained in accordance with the University’s records management policies. For, in addition to preserving the documentary heritage of Harvard University, the Archives has a vital mission to set and implement policies for the management of University records, including the promotion of records storage and retrieval efficiencies.

 
 
 

Introduction

 
About These Guidelines

The guidelines are based on best practices, federal and state privacy and confidentiality regulations, University records-retention policies, and a survey of current methods used by your colleagues at Harvard.

Major File Groups: Personal and/or Professional and University Records

Personal and/or Professional Files

  • Autobiographical Materials
  • Consulting Files
  • Professional Contact Files—“people files”
  • Professional Organization and Conference Files—“travel files”
  • Reference Files
  • Research Files—Project Records
  • Special Media
  • Speeches and Presentations
  • Student Evaluations and Recommendations
  • Teaching Files
  • Writings—published and unpublished

 

University Records

  • Conference Files: records created in the course of organizing University events, such as conferences
  • Department and Committee Records: records created when a faculty members serves as a University administrator, department chair, or University committee chair or member
  • Research Files—Administrative Records: records created in the course of a sponsored research project

 

For further information or for guidance on file groups not listed here, contact the Associate University Archivist for Collection Development,  virginia_hunt@harvard.edu

Policy Overview

University records are governed by University policies. For information about the handling of official University records, see Managing University Records. For more information regarding the management of faculty files and records, contact the Records Management Services at archives_rms@harvard.edu.

     
     

    Privacy and Confidentiality

     

    The University is required by law to protect some categories of information about individuals, including health records, student records, records concerning human subject research, and some financial and employment records.

    • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires any school, college, or university receiving federal funds to protect the confidentiality of student information.
    • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) restricts access to medical information about individuals, including medical records and other personal health information. HIPAA privacy regulations may also apply to records of human subject research, including biomedical, psychological, and epidemiological research.
    • The Department of Health and Human Services regulations (45 CFR 46) govern all records of research involving human subjects. Compliance with these regulations is overseen by:

    The Standing Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education, and the Kennedy School of Government

    The Office for Research Subject Protection and Committee on Human Studies at the Medical and Dental Schools

    The Human Subjects Committee at the School of Public Health

    For detailed information, see the Harvard University Information Privacy and Security web site.

    Records subject to privacy and confidentiality regulations should be segregated from other records, retained securely, and destroyed confidentially. Contact Records Management Services at the Harvard University Archives at 617-495-5961 or archives_rms@harvard.edu for information on confidential destruction services.

       
       

      Personal/Professional Files

       
      Categories of Personal/Professional Files and Recommendations

      Autobiographical Materials
      Consulting Files
      Professional Contact Files (“people files”)
      Professional Organization and Conference Files (“travel files”)
      Reference Files
      Research Files—Project Records
      Special Media
      Speeches and Presentations
      Student Evaluations and Recommendations
      Teaching Files—Course Materials
      Teaching Files—Student Course Work
      Writings, Published and Unpublished—Working Files
      Writings, Published and Unpublished—Reprints

       

       
      Autobiographical Materials
       

      Includes curricula vitae and bibliographies, honors, awards, degrees, press releases, diaries, oral histories and interviews, genealogies, biographical publications.

      Organize autobiographical materials by category or document type, then chronologically by date.

       

      Consulting Files
       

      Includes proposals, contracts, reports, correspondence, and notes.

      • Option A—File alphabetically by project/organization name. Recommended for smaller projects.
      • Option B—Arrange by project, then by topical category. Within each category file material by name, topic, or year as appropriate. Recommended for larger projects.

      Records generated from non-University work may be governed by federal/state regulations or contractual agreements. To ensure ready access, contractual agreements should be filed with corresponding project files in clearly marked separate folders. 

       

      Professional Contact Files (“people files”)
       

      Includes letters, printouts of e-mail correspondence, review and promotion records, papers and articles, applications, curriculum vitae, news clippings.

      • Option A—File alphabetically by personal name.
      • Option B—File alphabetically in A to Z letter files (e.g. “B” folder, “C” folder, etc. for people represented by too few documents to merit separate personal folders).

      Using either option, files may be sub-grouped by category as appropriate (e.g. students, researchers, visiting scholars, peers).

      File evaluations and recommendations about colleagues and other professionals in separate folders to maintain confidentiality.  Note that FERPA regulations may apply to records related to current students.  See http://security.harvard.edu/enterprise-security-policy/3-student-info/policies-3_1

       

      Professional Organization and Conference Files (“travel files”)
       

      Includes agendas, meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, and notes.

      File alphabetically by committee name, subject, or topic, then by year as appropriate. Transfer chairperson’s records to the incoming chair. Records created in the course of official University activities are subject to University records policies.

       

      Reference Files
       

      Includes vertical subject files, directories, manuals, personal reference libraries of books and journals.

      File by subject, or name of author, or type of material as appropriate. 

       

      Research Files—Project Records
       

      Includes proposals and planning records, research notes, research data (such as lab and field notebooks), documentation, analyses and reports of findings, correspondence, meeting minutes.

      • Option A—File alphabetically by project name. Recommended for smaller projects.
      • Option B—Arrange by project, then by topical category. Within each category file material by name, topic, or year as appropriate. Recommended for larger projects.

      Records of research projects conducted under University auspices may be subject to University records policies.

       

      Special Media
       

      Includes photographs and negatives, slides, audio and videotapes, specimens and artifacts, compact discs, motion picture films, maps, plans, drawings, three-dimensional objects and models, memorabilia. 

      • Option A—Organize special media in a scheme parallel to corresponding paper or electronic files (e.g. teaching records, research project records).
      • Option B—Organize special media by medium, then by subject/topic as appropriate, then by date.

      Label special media with names, dates, subjects, sources, and any other appropriate identifiers. Annotate media to relate materials to other files.

       

      Speeches and Presentations
       

      Includes speech notes, abstracts, slides, transparencies.

      • Option A—File alphabetically by title.
      • Option B—File chronologically by date of event.
      • Option C—File by year or year range, then alphabetically by title.

       

      Student Evaluations and Recommendations
       

      Includes letters of recommendations and evaluations for students.

      • Option A—File alphabetically by personal name.
      • Option B—File alphabetically in A to Z letter files (e.g. “B” folder, “C” folder, etc. for people represented by too few documents to merit separate personal folders).

      Files may be sub-grouped by category as appropriate (e.g. graduates, undergraduates).

      File evaluations and recommendations separately from other correspondence and keep them secure to maintain confidentiality.  Note that FERPA regulations apply. See http://security.harvard.edu/enterprise-security-policy/3-student-info/policies-3_1.

       

      Teaching Files—Course Materials
       

      Includes lecture or class notes, course syllabi and outlines, assignments and exams, grading guidelines, manuals, notebooks. 

      • Option A—File by course title/number, then by semester or academic year.
      • Option B—Group by course, then file by lecture title.

       

      Teaching Files—Student Course Work
       

      Includes grade reports, attendance records, graded assignments or exams, papers.

      File by course title/number, then by semester or academic year. File student course work separately from course materials to maintain confidentiality.

      Note that FERPA regulations apply. See http://security.harvard.edu/enterprise-security-policy/3-student-info/policies-3_1.

       

      Writings, Published and Unpublished—Working Files
       

      Includes manuscripts, unpublished papers, drafts or notes, publishers’ contracts and related correspondence, comments, referees’ reports, galley proofs. 

      • Option A—File alphabetically by project name.
      • Option B—Group records by project name, then file alphabetically by category as appropriate.  

      To ensure ready access, file publishers’ contracts and related correspondence in a clearly marked separate folder.

       

      Writings, Published and Unpublished—Reprints
       

      Includes articles, books, book reviews. 

      • Option A—File alphabetically by title.
      • Option B—File chronologically by date of publication.
      • Option C—File by year or year range, then alphabetically by title.
         
         

        University Records

         

        University records are governed by University policies. For information about the handling of official University records, see Managing University Records.

        Conference Files
        Department and Committee Records
        Research Files—Administrative Records

         


         
        Conference Files
         

        Includes records created in the course of official University activities that are subject to University records policies.

         

        Department and Committee Records
         

        Includes correspondence, meeting minutes and committee files, brochures and programs, notes, travel expense and reimbursement materials.

        • Option A—File alphabetically by name of organization or event, then chronologically by date.
        • Option B—File chronologically by date of event.
        • Option C—File by year or year range, then alphabetically by name of organization or event.

        Files collected in an official capacity should be returned to the organization when no longer needed.

         

        Research Files—Administrative Records
         

        Includes grant applications and contract files, policy and procedure manuals, financial records, search and personnel records, equipment maintenance records, logistics and meeting arrangement records, reports.

        Arrange by project, then by topical category, then by subject/name as appropriate. File administrative records separately from project records.

           
           

          Electronic Files

           

          Electronic mail (e-mail) and other electronic documents have become important communication tools for conducting University business.  Like paper records, e-mail and other types of electronic records are evidence of University functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the University, and can be historically valuable because of information they contain.

          When managing electronic mail and documents, the same guidelines should be applied to those applying to paper.  This guidance is designed to help manage electronic records and to provide assistance for implementing records management best practices.

          All Electronic Documents
          E-Mail
          Naming Conventions
          Scanning

           


           

          All Electronic Documents
           

          Make use of the hierarchical directory structure (multi-level mailbox/folder system) in e-mail and desktop electronic filing systems to organize e-mail and other electronic files:

          • Option A—Create category/subcategory/topical folders as appropriate. File individual documents into topical folders.
          • Option B—Create category folders and a year-range folder for each category, then subcategory/topical folders as appropriate. File individual documents into topical folders.
          • Option C—Create a year-range folder, then category/subcategory/topical folders as appropriate. File individual documents into topical folders.

          Files may be kept in traditional hard copy or electronically.  Be sure to back up your files on a University server. 

           

          E-Mail
           

          Like other electronic records, the content of e-mail should drive the management of it. Understandably, the volume of e-mail makes it more difficult to deal with than virtually any other kind of record.

          A few suggestions for helping to manage email are:

          • Organize e-mail into folders for ease of identifying location and content
          • Consider the content of attachments when making decisions about filing and management
          • Use system-provided “rules” programs to collate and funnel incoming email into appropriate folders
          • Organize outgoing messages in the same manner as incoming messages
          • Do not send confidential information via e-mail without encryption—email is not a secure transfer method
          • Use naming conventions to facilitate organization and easy sorting

          For a more thorough discussion of this topic, please see our email management guidelines at Electronic Records/E-mail.

           

          Naming Conventions
           

          Employing naming conventions can create uniformity in files and shared drives, making sorting more predictable, and assist in version control as well as provide clues to the contents of files and folders without a close examination.

          When creating naming conventions, create names that will allow useful sorting, avoid spaces, abbreviations, and most symbols, format dates to enhance sorting, keep names as brief as possible and make them easy to read, and use the filename to express authorship and version control.

          Certain applications, such as Course iSites, may require the use of specialized naming conventions. Consult with the application support teams for advice.
          More detailed information on filenames, including a sample document set of rules, is found at [Link to MUR_NamingConventions_pdf].

           

          Scanning
           

          Scanning can be a useful tool for managing records and enhancing workflow, however, it is important to ensure that handling of scanned and original paper documents meet the University and legal requirements regarding management, preservation or destruction of University records.

          The management of recordkeeping metadata associated with scanned records is particularly important as it provides the context, content and structure of records. Without this metadata, records will lose much of their evidential value and context.  In addition, it is important to make certain that software and computer hardware required to ensure the record remains readily accessible is maintained and available.  Records with long-term or historic value need to be preserved and accessible.

          Review the Archives’ Scanning Guidelines at for a more thorough discussion of the topic.

             
             

            Donating Your Personal Archives to the University Archives

             

            Since its founding, the Harvard University Archives has collected and preserved the personal papers of Harvard faculty. Among the many Harvard faculty whose papers reside in the University Archives are: John K. Fairbank, Oscar Handlin, Ruth Hubbard, Nathan Huggins, George Kistiakowsky, Wassily Leontief, Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Murray, Talcott Parsons, John Rawls, David Riesman, Josiah Royce, Emily Vermeule, George Wald, Fred Whipple, and John Winthrop.

            If you are interested in placing your archives at the University, please contact the Associate University Archivist for the Collection Development, virginia_hunt@harvard.edu.