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Mission Statement

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In 1966 the Board of Trustees established a College Archives to direct the administration's responsibilities to preserve the institution's "memory" and support the teaching mission. Today, the archives of the College comprise a unique body of materials containing information of administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical value to the institution. Oberlin College, therefore, systematically collects, preserves, maintains, promotes, and makes available official records and personal papers of enduring historical, legal, administrative, and fiscal value. In managing current records and practices the College Archivist directs the orderly transfer of College records from active to inactive status when they are deemed historically valuable and assists in the orderly disposal of those records that have no significant historical value. To ensure the continued preservation and availability of this historical property, Oberlin College adopts the formal policies listed below:

Duties of the College Archivist

  1. to systematize the storage and orderly disposal of inactive records (textual and non-textual)
  2. to select and prepare for permanent retention records of potential enduring or historical value from academic departments and offices, faculty, student, alumni, and other supporters of the college
  3. to arrange and describe records (archives) as appropriate, utilizing modern archival practice(s)
  4. to make archival materials available for users under appropriate security
  5. to ensure the preservation of records of historical value through document conservation when appropriate and solicit resources for this purpose

Definition of Archives

College archives may be defined as all non-current documentary materials created, received, and maintained by College personnel in conducting the official business of the College. Documentary materials are those carrying information of permanent value as determined by the Archivist and the person or office creating / receiving the materials. In some instances authorization may fall under the informal but posted Records Retention and Disposition Schedule of the College (see reference to in section V). The records may be in various media (such as paper, tapes, typed, printed, manuscript, machine-readable, microform, or audiovisual).

Since all documentary materials (college records) are the property of Oberlin College, they may not be deliberately destroyed or otherwise disposed of without the approval of the department official in charge of the originating office, or the College Archivist. (Under section III the College Archives Advisory Committee may be consulted to mediate records disposal matters.) The administrative officers who are covered by these regulations include faculty members who perform non-teaching or administrative duties of either a continuous or occasional nature (such as acting as an Associate Dean, as an acting chairman of a department, or serving on departmental or college committees), which put them in possession of records pertaining to their official duties.

Transmittal of Records to the Archives

The College Archivist and a designated person from each office or body producing records shall determine which inactive records have permanent value and arrange to have such records transmitted to the College Archives on a mutually acceptable schedule. Originating offices hold the responsibility to weed files, and they are expected to bear the expense of shipment. The selection of records shall be based on guidelines established by the Archivist, in consultation with an Archives Advisory Committee. Any restrictions to access and use of the records shall be negotiated at this time, or as previously established by college regulation.

Examples of Records to be preserved in the College Archives

The list below identifies the most important records in a college archival program. It is not exhaustive but serves as a starting point for the College Archives Advisory Committee, which can develop more comprehensive guidelines for archival materials.

  1. Records created, received, and maintained by the Board of Trustees. The Office of the Secretary maintains the original minutes and document files.
  2. Papers of the President, Vice-Presidents, and the Deans of the main divisions of the College. These papers should include all statements of policy, major reports and statistical summaries, major correspondence relating to policy development, and other appropriate materials.
  3. Papers from other offices, administrative and academic, to supplement the papers of the above.
  4. Minutes and related documents from departments and from college-wide committees (administrative, academic, and student).
  5. Papers of members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, student groups, or staff as a supplement to these official records.
  6. Papers of the Oberlin Community (individuals, organizations, etc.) will be acquired, as time and resources allow, when such documentation supplements the history of the Institution.
  7. All printed publications (administrative, academic, and student).
  8. Films, recordings, tapes, electronic files, and photographs produced by the teaching programs.
  9. A sampling of papers of individual faculty members and professional staff (such as publications or teaching notes).
  10. A sampling of course syllabi (for example, syllabi for years the College is evaluated by the North Central Association for Colleges and Schools).

Original Date: April 1992
Revised: October 2001
Revised: November 2001