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Access to College Records in the Archives

Records Scheduled for Permanent Retention

College records scheduled for permanent retention fall into one of three general categories.

Category 1: Personal
Records that contain personal information about an individual or individuals. These may include, for example, student academic records, faculty and staff personnel records, and alumni office records. After processing, records of this type scheduled for permanent retention are closed for 75 years from date of creation or until the death of the individuals mentioned in the records. Then the records are open without restriction.

Category 2: Universal Distribution
Records that were in general distribution at the time of their creation. These records generally include announcements, college publications, calendars, brochures, minutes of faculty meetings, some committee reports. After processing, records of this type scheduled for permanent retention are open immediately without restriction.

Category 3: General College Records
Records of the administration of the college, its policies and programs, that do not fall into either category 1 or category 2. These include records from administrative and academic departments and of committees. After processing, records of this type scheduled for permanent retention are closed for 20 years from date of creation, then are open without restriction.

For records series dated by academic year, access is restricted until after the end of the academic year. For example: records created in academic year 1974-75 were closed until June 1, 1995. For series dated by calendar year, access is restricted until after Dec. 31. For series dated by fiscal year, access is restricted until the end of the fiscal year.

Additional conditions:

  • Records access policies and retention schedules for individual records series are developed by the college archivist in conjunction with the originating office and are reviewed by college counsel.
  • All records are reviewed for material that contains sensitive or private information. As a result, individual records series may have restrictions placed on them that differ from the general restrictions listed above. The standard closure period of 10-20 years may be reduced or extended with the consent of the President or the appropriate senior officer.
  • A researcher may petition the records creator for written permission to view closed files.
  • Unprocessed records in any category are open only to the records creator.

Records Scheduled for Destruction
Records not scheduled for permanent retention are scheduled for destruction. There are two types of destruction.
Confidential Destruction.
The College has a contract with a commercial service to have sensitive records disposed of confidentially. If the records fall into category 1 or category 3 above they must be confidentially destroyed through the College Archives. These records should not be disposed of by the records creator. Records scheduled for confidential destruction are not processed in any way and are open only to the records creator until they are destroyed.
General Destruction.
Records in category 2 (Universal Distribution) should be either recycled or disposed of in a like manner. The records creator is responsible for the destruction of this material.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421 · scaref@bowdoin.edu · (207) 725-3288