Become Your Own Archivist
The information below will help you preserve your records, regardless of whether they are destined for the College Archives.
Know what you have and where it is.
- Conduct an inventory of your paper and digital records, and log where they are located in a spreadsheet. Add to this inventory as necessary. This is especially helpful for future group leaders and for eventual transfer to the College Archives. The process of creating an inventory may also help you identify which records should be kept long-term.
The basics of preserving your paper records.
- Consider investing in archival storage - acid-free folders and boxes (you can buy acid-free folders at most major retailers; Gaylord Archival on Amazon is one option for acid-free boxes)
- Store your records in a secure location, preferably somewhere without major fluctuations in temperature or humidity.
- Always make sure more than one person knows where your records are, especially when people in leadership roles approach graduation
The basics of preserving your digital files.
- Keep multiple copies of vital files in multiple places, using a variety of storage media (e.g. Google Drive and Bowdoin network storage).
- Try to use widely available, common file formats like PDFs and JPEGs. (link to recommended formats documentation)
- Use file and folder names that indicate content of the file (e.g. use “MeetingMinutesApril2022.docx,” not “Document5.docx”). Consider drafting a file naming convention to help keep things consistent.
- Use folders to organize your files by category.
- Remember that this work must be sustained over time in order to protect your records.
Preserving your website or social media account.
- Do not rely on social media to be your archive. Most social media sites allow download of your data, which you should ideally do regularly.
- Always make sure more than one person has the login info for your web content accounts, especially when people in leadership roles approach graduation.
- Download your social media account data. Most major social media platforms have a way to do this.
- Capture your website. There are free tools you can use to capture a Web ARChive (WARC) file of your group’s website or social media account. WARC files are the generally accepted standard for web archiving. Two such tools are Webrecorder and Conifer.
Make a plan and assign the work.
- Consider drafting a records management plan for your group that indicates which files are kept and how they are preserved. This is something Archives staff can assist with, whether or not the records will be preserved in the College Archives.
- Consider creating an archivist or historian role as one of your group leadership positions. The responsibility of this position would be to ensure records are kept, organized, and preserved according to the records management plan; this person could collaborate with Archives staff as needed.
- Make sure everyone in your group knows about the plan and how it will help to preserve your organization’s history