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A “How-To” guide for preparing your records for donation

Donating your records

The Canadian Archive of Women in STEM is a new initiative of the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Ottawa Library. Its primary purpose is to acquire, preserve and make available, archival records in all formats that will enrich the research of women’s contributions to STEM in Canada. The Archives and Special Collections is a modern and publicly accessible repository and our collections are used by a broad range of individuals from a wide range of disciplines, including teachers and students, independent scholars, writers, journalists, and community activists.

This How-To guide is aimed at women who have, or who continue to work, in STEM fields in Canada, as well as the professional organizations who have supported women in STEM. It provides practical information on how best to prepare records for donation to the Archives and Special Collections for long term preservation. By establishing this initiative, we hope to highlight the often overlooked past contributions of women in STEM while also capturing the current lived experiences of women in STEM for the benefit of current and future research.

Where to start

Please do not take any steps to sort or cull your records before contacting us. Records communicate information and perspective in a variety of ways and sometimes a document that may seem worthless can provide greater context for other records. There is no need to put your records into new file folders before donating them as they will be transferred to archival standard folders when they are received. However, it is important to name the file folders if this has not already been done.

If you are reluctant to donate documents which contain personal or sensitive information, please note that it is possible to restrict the access for a certain period of time. Restrictions will be discussed when the formal agreement process is underway.

Information to provide

When contacting the Archives regarding a potential records donation, it is very helpful to us if you can provide some basic information by completing a “proposal to donate” form. If you don’t have all the information, provide what you do have.

1. Name of creator

Indicate the name of the person or organization that holds the records and is either the creator of the records or knows about the creation of the records.

2. Short biography/administrative history of the records creator

In the case of an individual’s records please provide a short biography for the records creator including:

  • Dates (birth, death)
  • Educational history
  • Professional experience
  • Notable projects
  • Awards

In the case of an organization please provide the administrative history including:

  • Dates (establishment, dissolution)
  • Mandate/mission
  • Key individuals
  • Main activities and achievements

3. Date range of the records

Indicate the approximate time range covered by the documents. It could be precise, e.g., 1962-1984 or more general, e.g., 1960s-1980s.

4. Overview of the types of records (or a detailed listing if possible):

For an individual, it could include personal documents such as:

  • correspondence
  • personal diaries
  • reports
  • articles
  • photographs
  • maps and plans
  • personal video or audio recordings

For an organization, it could include:

  • articles of incorporation
  • executive board and committee minutes
  • correspondence
  • planning documents
  • summary financial documents
  • reports and briefs
  • newsletters
  • press releases
  • staff files
  • membership records
  • electronic records
  • architectural drawings
  • photographs
  • video or audiocassettes

Please note that we understand that organizations can have unique structures and operations and that the types of records can vary considerably.

If you are donating electronic or audiovisual material please indicate the type of documents (emails, digital photographs, sound recordings, databases, etc.) as well as their format (audiocassettes, VHS, CD, DVD, USB key, external hard drive etc.).

5. Size of the donation

It might be difficult to assess the extent or amount of your records, however, we ask for an estimate. It could be the number of boxes, the number of cm of documents, items, etc.  For example:

  • The donation consists of correspondence, pamphlets, photographs and sound recordings in 2 banker’s boxes.
  • The photographs consist of ca. 100 colour photographs and 3 sound recordings on 3 audiocassettes with copies on a DVD.

6. The records and their context

It is useful if you can provide a short description of the activities that are documented in the records. Also, any information about the records themselves and their content and how they have been accumulated, organized or stored.

7. Contact information

Please provide your name and contact information. If the material is donated by an organization please provide the name of the organization, and your contact information.

Donation Agreement

When an offer of archival material is recommended for acquisition, a donation agreement is negotiated between the Archives and Special Collections and the donor. This covers the ownership and custody, terms of use, access and copyright, possible restrictions, and any other pertinent information.

Delivery of the material

Delivery of the archival material to the Archives and Special Collections is the responsibility of the donor.

For any questions regarding our policies and procedures or if interested in donating of archival records, please contact:

Archives and Special Collections

University of Ottawa

65 University Private



Phone: 613-562-5800 ext. 3453

How-to guide

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