One of the most important sources for understanding the evolution of an organization is its records. The Yale University Archives selects, preserves, and provides access to the records of the university and related materials of enduring scholarly, administrative, and community significance. The University Archives is located in the Manuscripts and Archives department of the University Library. It is the official repository for all University records of lasting value once they are no longer needed for current use. It exists as the institutional memory of Yale and provides the larger community with a broad historical focus on Yale's evolution and role in society. For information on access policies, please read Research Use of the Yale University Archives.
The Records Services Program is Yale's first university wide records management initiative. The Program provides support to carry out appraisal, selection, and preservation of the institutional records of Yale and its affiliated agencies. Records Services staff consult with offices to determine which records are archival, requiring permanent retention, how to prepare materials for transfer to the University Archives, and how to retrieve them for administrative purposes.
Shared Responsibility for Records
Records regardless of format, created in the course of business at Yale are the property of the University. Yale offices and staff that create and maintain these records are responsible for their preservation and security while they are in active use, and are also responsible for consulting with Archives and Records Services staff to determine when and how inactive records should be transferred to the University Archives or destroyed. The policies and procedures practiced by the Archives and Records Services Program are fully endorsed by the Secretary of the University, who has the ultimate responsibility for protecting Yale's records and holdings.
Value and Uses of Records
The records generated by the schools, departments, and offices of the University are the most tangible evidence of Yale's history and activities. They provide officers and staff of the University with materials necessary to understand and interpret the evolution of University policies and activities. They provide students, scholars, and researchers with essential documentation of how Yale operates. The records not only document the official duties of the officers, schools, programs, and departments on campus, but also its relationships with alumni, affiliated organizations, student clubs, and its home city of New Haven.
Categories of Records
The selection and preservation of those records that support these historical, administrative, and community pursuits is a complex undertaking in an institution that has had the longevity and range of interests that Yale has had. Obviously, not all of the records that Yale has produced in its more than 300 years of existence are of permanent value. Some are of enduring significance; others are needed to provide legal and administrative evidence for recent University actions and obligations; still others are only of transient value, primarily to the office that holds it, to support the creating office's effective functioning.