Your story matters.
Student organizations play a central role in life at Bowdoin. Preserving the voices of student groups ensures that future members, as well as research scholars, understand the valuable contributions student organizations make to the College. We hope the information provided below will be useful for students who are thinking about the best way to preserve their group’s records.
- What is Special Collections & Archives?
Learn more about our department, which we refer to as SC&A, by watching this video. Part of SC&A is the College Archives, which collects records and other materials documenting the history of Bowdoin. You can also learn more about what each staff member does on our staff page.
- How can we preserve the history of our student group?
Your two main options are to do it yourself, keeping records within your group’s membership (in which case you may find these resources helpful) or to partner with SC&A to transfer your records to the College Archives, on your terms.
- Should we, or shouldn’t we?
The decision whether to preserve your group’s records is entirely up to group leadership. You own your records, and you may decide that some or all of them are intentionally ephemeral. This does not lessen their value or the importance of your group to Bowdoin. There are many ways stories are kept and told – preserving archival records is just one of them.
- Why transfer our records to the College Archives?
The College Archives contains material that tells the story of Bowdoin College, from the perspective of the trustees, administration, faculty, and student body. It’s our job to permanently ensure the security and preservation of these records, and to provide equitable access to them according to donor agreements.
While our archivists make every effort to capture the full scope of life at Bowdoin, we are often unable to do so, especially when it comes to documenting student life. When student groups transfer their records to the archives, they help us fill in the gaps, allowing future group members and researchers to gain a sense of group history and find student voices in the history of the College.
- What type of records should we preserve?
Regardless of whether you opt to preserve your own history or transfer your records to the archives, consider saving materials that tells the story of your group, including your activities and decision making. Below is a non-exhaustive list of materials that can be preserved physically or digitally.
- Meeting minutes
- Correspondence (including email)
- Committee and project files
- Social media accounts
- Photos and video
SC&A only accepts what we call non-active records. If your records are still being used or referred to frequently by your group, they are considered active records and should not yet be transferred.
- If we transfer our records to the archives, how and when will our records be made accessible?
Most paper records are made available to the public as soon as they are cataloged in our database, and the same is true for archived websites and other electronic records. Some donors choose to restrict access to their records. The most common type of restriction is to disallow access for a given number of years (e.g. 5, 10, or 20 years from the date of creation), after which time materials are made available publicly. You could also temporarily or permanently disallow online access to certain records so materials would only be available to researchers on Bowdoin’s campus or to those who submit a remote reference request to our department. As part of the transfer process, we will work with you to determine if access restrictions make sense for your records. Members of your group will always be able to access the materials you donate, no matter the access restrictions.
- Our group is not officially affiliated with Bowdoin through Student Activities but is made up of Bowdoin students. Do you want our records?
Yes! We are happy to help all student groups preserve their records.
- What if we are interested in transferring our records to SC&A, but we are still using some of them?
We only accept what we call non-active records. If your records are still being used or referred to frequently by your group, they are considered active records and should not yet be transferred. Fill out this form if you are interested in transferring records to SC&A.
- How would the actual transfer of records to the Archives happen?
We will collaborate with you to determine a transfer strategy that works for your group. We can provide boxes for your paper records and a variety of transfer options for your digital materials. Fill out this form if you are interested in transferring records to SC&A.