Frequently Asked Questions

What types of records should I include in my donation?

It is difficult to generalize about the types of records that you should include in your donation since any given body of records can vary greatly from donor to donor. Don't exclude records in your donation just because you cannot find them listed amongst the illustrative examples below. Consult with the Staff Archivist if you are unsure about what to include in your donation.  Donors are often surprised to learn what is considered to be historically valuable. We are interested in preserving as complete a picture of the person or organization as possible.

Individuals (Students, Staff, Alumni, and General Public)

Records that provide insight into the interests, occupations, and life of an individual.

  • Diaries, journals, blogs, and notebooks that document daily life or special events
  • Correspondence with friends, family, and colleagues (letters and email)
  • Photographs (dated and identified) are of value because they illustrate some meaningful event, place or time and are clearly linked to your life or career (digital or analogue)
  • Records documenting your education, career, community involvement, and membership and service in organizations

SFU Faculty

See Guidelines for Donating Faculty Papers. (pdf)


Records that document the core functions of an organization, its responsibilities and legal obligations, its impact on its core constituency (customers, members, clients, etc.) and its development and growth over time.

  • Articles of incorporation or other founding documents
  • Policies and procedures
  • Correspondence of the governing executive body and/or executive officers of the organization (letters, memos, directives, and email)
  • Agendas, minutes, and supporting papers of the governing executive body and the organization's committees (digital or analogue)
  • Annual reports (PDFs or bound paper copies)
  • Publicity and communication materials (e.g. newsletters, pamphlets, websites, etc.)
  • Membership lists (databases, spreadsheets, directories)
  • Job descriptions (digital or analogue)
  • Records documenting interactions between the organization and its clients, customers, or members that are not shaped or constrained by standardized forms or templates (e.g. application and registration forms), but instead are more narrative in form and document expectations, concerns and complaints and the organization's response to them (e.g. correspondence, case files, interviews, etc.)
  • Photographs (dated and identified) of staff and significant corporate events that were pivotal in the life of the organization (digital or analogue)
  • Financial records such as general ledgers, annual operating budgets, and financial statements (bound paper copies, spreadsheets, PDFs)

University Departments

University departments do not donate their records to SFU Archives, but transfer them to our custody and control through approved Records Retention Schedules and Disposal Authorities (RRSDAs).  RRSDAs prescribe how long a particular record series (i.e. type of record or grouping of records) must be kept and whether that series should eventually be destroyed or transferred to SFU Archives for permanent preservation. Contact the Records Management Archivist for details.