University Archives Policy

Adopted by Board of Trustees November 19, 2009

University Archives Policy


This policy is intended to:

a) Clarify the role of the Archives
b) Supersede the prior resolutions of the Board of Trustees concerning the Archives
c) Supplement the Policy on the Retention of University Records of 2009

Purpose of the Archives

The Archives of the University of Rochester preserves the University’s historic records of enduring value. As the “institutional memory” of the University, the Archives functions as a

repository for the following materials:

1.    Governance documents, such as, but not limited to:

a. The University’s Charter and its amendments
b. The Board of Trustees Minutes and other documents generated by committees of the Board
c. The papers of the University Presidents
d. The Faculty Senate Minutes

2.    Historical documents including, but are not limited to, the following:

a.   Publications generated by various segments of the University:

1)   Official Bulletins of the University and its component Schools
2)   Reports of the University President, Treasurer and other officials
3)   Student publications such as yearbooks, newspapers, literary magazines and the like
4)   Alumni publications such as RAR, Rochester Review and others
5)   University Press Releases and Calendars
6)   Directories
7)   Inaugural addresses and related documents
8)   Newsletters, programs, ephemera and other publications

b.  Non-current Public Relations files kept to document the achievements of faculty, former staff, and others, as well as subject files on numerous aspects of the University’s activities
c.   Photographs, slides, motion pictures, audio tapes, sound recordings, post cards and digital upgrades of these
d.  Museum objects
e.  Dissertations and Master’s theses and other scholarship produced by our students
f.   Portraits, plaques, framed University scenes and other visual depictions
g.  Registrar student records from 1850-1962 [access generally limited to the Registrar and his/her designated staff]
h.  Physical plant documents, such as architectural drawings, renderings, maps and papers
i.   Accounts of University life, such as diaries, notebooks, scripts, scrapbooks, posters, flyers and other ephemera
j.   Gift, donor and endowment records that document the generosity of the University’s benefactors as well as the fund raising campaigns of the past
k.  Legal documents transferred from the University Counsel
l.   Other materials at the discretion of the Archivist [Should an office be unsure as to whether to transfer materials to the Archives or not, the Archivist should be consulted.]

Acceptance and Destruction of Material

Materials are accepted into the Archives at the discretion of the University Archivist in consultation with the Dean of the River Campus Libraries.

Materials in the Archives cannot be destroyed or released from the Archives without the approval of:

a) The person in charge of the Department that placed the material in the Archives, and
b) The University Archivist after consultation with the Dean of the River Campus Libraries


The University Archives are located in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of the Rush Rhees Library. They are overseen by the John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist.


1.    Board of Trustees Minutes

Minutes of the Board of Trustees are confidential to the Trustees and appropriate University officials. The Secretary of the University has delegated authority to the University Archivist to grant access for historical and other bona fide scholarly purposes, provided the minutes in question are at least twenty-five years old and the Board Chairman and President who were incumbent at the time of the meeting are no longer living, or have given written permission for such access. Other exceptions, if any, must be approved in advance by the Secretary of the University.

2.    Papers of Past Presidents

Access to the papers of past Presidents will be given only with the permission of the Secretary of the University. The following principles guide the Secretary in determining whether to grant such permission.

a.   A past President may specify the terms and conditions of access to his or her personal papers during his or her lifetime.
b.   Access will be given only for legitimate research and other bona fide historical inquiry. Access will be denied to browsers and curiosity-seekers.
c.   Unless otherwise specified by a past President, until the twentieth anniversary of the date on which the past President left office or until his or her death, whichever occurs later, access will be provided only to University archivists, officers, and the past President. Exceptions to this rule will be made only under compelling circumstances and with the concurrence of the incumbent President.The Secretary of the University or incumbent President will consult with a living past President on the advisability of making an exception with respect to his or her papers. 
d.   All persons seeking access must state the object of their inquiries and specify the particular files or portions thereof that they wish to see. File documents will not leave the secured area of the Archives without the permission of the Archivist. Documents may be photocopied only with the permission of the Archivist after consultation with the Secretary of the University.
e.   Notwithstanding any other provision of these guidelines, the Secretary of the University may further limit access in order to maintain the confidentiality of personnel evaluations, health records, privileged communications and other document containing personal identifying private information normally given special protection by law or custom.

3.    Policy on Access to All Other Documents in the Archives

The University office that places its historical records in the Archives can restrict access to its records after consultation with the Archivist about such restrictions.

The University Archivist must review all requested documents for social security numbers and other sensitive personal information and can restrict use of such information as a condition of access or exclude such information from the documents given access.