Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare my records for transfer to SFU Archives?

Start by preparing contextual background information on the records described in How to Donate Your Records to SFU Archives or contact the Staff Archivist to book a site visit and inspection of your records.

Do your best to maintain the order in which the records were originally created and kept so as to preserve their context and their interrelatedness. There is no need to re-organize your records into subject or thematic-based groupings. You do not need to spend any time trying to "clean things up".

Box the records. If you need boxes, SFU Archives can provide you with standardized document storage boxes or "banker boxes" (12" W x 15" D x 10" H).

If your records are in electronic form, talk with the Staff Archivist about how to prep them for transfer.

Keep all of your records together instead of offering different portions to different archival repositories. One of the guiding principles of archival practice is a respect for provenance and original order. This means the records of one creator (individual, family, or organization) should be kept together in the original order in which they were created and maintained.

Identify any records to which you would like to assign time-limited, public access restrictions because they contain sensitive personal information. It is preferable to assign time-limited restrictions to personal information as opposed to destroying the records or choosing not to include them in your donation. The sensitivity of personal information diminishes with time and SFU Archives wants to preserve an accurate account of an individual's life and career or the history and operations of an organization. Destroying records that contain personal information can create gaps in the historical record. Talk to the Staff Archivist about measures that we take to balance privacy concerns with the preservation of the historical record.

Remove publications from your proposed donation unless their removal would significantly impair an understanding of the records (e.g. keep newspaper clippings if they form part of a file and the records in that file refer to the clippings, keep publications if they are heavily annotated with insightful comments). Consider donating your books and periodicals to a library.

Inspect the records to be sure there are no mold or pest infestations (e.g. bugs, mouse droppings), especially if they have been kept in damp storage for a long period of time (e.g. basement, garage, attic, shed, storage unit).

Tell us about yourself or the creator of the records so that we can prepare a brief biographical sketch or administrative history to accompany your records. Documents that are helpful include resumes, who's who entries, obituaries, articles of incorporation, organizational charts, annual reports, or any other document that succinctly summarizes the life and career of an individual or the functions of an organization. Of particular interest is the following information:

Individuals or families

  • Full name(s)
  • City or town of residence
  • Education
  • Occupations, life and activities


  • Dates of founding and/or dissolution
  • Mandate
  • Predecessor and successor organizations
  • Reporting relationships
  • Organizational name changes
  • Name(s) of chief officers