Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Records Management / Mission Statement and Collections Policy

Mission Statement and Collections Policy

The mission of the Bowdoin College Archives is to:

  • appraise, collect, organize, describe, preserve, and make available College records of enduring administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical value;
  • provide facilities for the retention, preservation, access, and research use of College records;
  • provide information services in support of the administration and operation of the College;
  • facilitate the efficient management of the recorded information created by College units and offices;
  • serve as a research center for the study of Bowdoin College history, and of the history of institutions of higher education generally;
  • promote understanding and appreciation of the College's history and its contribution to our cultural and intellectual heritage.

Collection Policy

This policy is based on the Bowdoin College Archives Records Authority Statement, approved by the Executive Committee of the Governing Boards, June 10, 1994.


The Bowdoin College Archives acquires, preserves, maintains, and provides access to those College records that possess enduring administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical value. The purpose for collecting such records is to provide a complete institutional record of the College and to document its activities, particularly: its history; its functions of teaching, learning and research; its socializing aspects; its role in the community (especially as a cultural agent); and, its place in American higher education.

The decision to preserve College records for administrative, legal and fiscal purposes is the responsibility of the appropriate College officer or administrator in consultation with the College Archives. The decision to acquire records of historic value is the responsibility of the College Archives.

The Archives welcomes offers of privately owned materials that bear on the history of the College and on the experiences of the College community. Faculty papers, letters and reminiscences of alumni/ae, reunion keepsakes, photographs, and related documents supplement and fortify the official College record, and the Archives is happy to receive such acquisitions provided their acceptance incurs no obligation to retain such material as a distinct collection or in any prescribed physical form.

Ownership and Retention:

All College records are the property of Bowdoin College and are subject to records retention schedules, which are determined by the officer in charge of the accumulated records in consultation with the College Archives. Retention periods and ultimate disposition for these records are based on legal, administrative and institutional considerations. None of these records may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of without the approval of both the official record holder and the College Archives. ["Records Authority Statement" (Exec.Comm. of the Governing Boards of Bowdoin College, June 10, 1994)]

All College records must be retained in a readable format. While records are in the custody of the office of origin, all requirements associated with records retention, such as maintenance of filing systems, storage and access, remain the responsibility of the official record holder. Records scheduled for permanent retention shall be managed in accordance with campus-wide practices and procedures under the direction of the College Archives and, with respect to electronic records, of Information Technology [IT]. Responsibility to read, to retrieve and to preserve information from inactive and Archival electronic records rests with the office of origin.

All College records preserved in the Archives remain the records of the office of origin and may be withdrawn at any time by that office for its own use. In the absence of specified restrictions, all records retained in the Archives will be available for research following the established guidelines of Special Collections & Archives.

Copyright in College records may rest with Bowdoin College or, in some cases, with the author of the work. Published use of College records beyond "fair use" as stipulated in U.S. copyright law (Title 17 U.S.Code) requires the express written permission of the copyright holder. Please consult the Bowdoin College Copyright Policy, the Bowdoin College Intellectual Property Policy, or Special Collections & Archives staff for further information.


College record: all recorded information and data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that are created or received in the course of official College business and that document the administrative transactions and activities of any College office or employee, including those by or with teaching faculty and students in the performance of their official administrative College obligations, constitute College records and are the property of Bowdoin College. Examples include: official correspondence; committee minutes and reports; transcripts; grade books; student coursework and examinations; financial data; personnel and search committee files; College publications; recordings of official College events; policies; email and voicemail communications related to College business.

Personal record: all recorded information and data that are created or received independent of official administrative College business constitute personal records and are the property of the holder of those materials or data. Examples include: teaching materials; scholarly research; unsanctioned student publications; recordings of informal events; email and voicemail unrelated to College business.

Mixed records: recorded information and data that co-mingle "College records" with either personal records or official records of another institution or agency require defined custody to establish whether or not Bowdoin College shall claim stewardship over such mixed records. In any event, those portions of the mixed records that meet the definition of "College records" are subject to the information policies of Bowdoin College. Examples include: collaborative projects involving Bowdoin faculty and College administrative units; CBB consortial ventures.

Active records: records required for the ongoing business activities of the record holder; these records carry the potential for frequent and timely consultation.

Inactive records: records of administrative value but not essential to the ongoing business activities of the record holder; these records may carry auditing, legal or other stipulations that require their retention but only occasional consultation.

Archival records: records of enduring value to the College that are designated for permanent retention once their active or inactive cycle has passed. Archival records in most physical forms, including paper-based texts, photographs and magnetic media, are normally transferred to the custody of the College Archives for storage, preservation, access, and retrieval. Some electronic records may be designated as "Archival" and in the custodial control of the College Archives but may reside on storage devices outside the physical confines of College Archives facilities.

Copy of record: sometimes thought of as the "master copy," a single copy of a document maintained by its office of origin or designated custodian that is designated as the official College record of a transaction or activity; all other copies are duplicate copies, held for convenience, and should be destroyed in the specified manner as soon as their usefulness has ended.

Office of origin: department, administrative unit or designated College officer responsible for the creation or ongoing custody of a College "copy of record" prior to its scheduled destruction or transfer to the Archives.

Records retention schedules: documents created by the Archives, in consultation with the appropriate College officer(s), that define particular groups of College records, indicate when those records become inactive, specify whether or not they should be transferred to the Archives for temporary or permanent storage and whether they are subject to general or confidential destruction, and stipulate what access restrictions apply to their use.

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