IMSA Archives Guidelines


In order to protect irreplaceable records, all staff and students working with records for the IMSA Archives should strive to follow accepted professional standards for processing and arranging archival materials. Our purpose is to maintain a professional archive, not a random collection. In order to accomplish this, please adhere to the following guidelines.


Archive: Place where records or documents of enduring administrative or historical value are arranged, described, preserved and made available for research use

Museum: Place devoted to the procurement, care, study and display of objects of lasting interest or value

Document: A paper record

Artifact: An object

IMSA has an archive, not a museum or a collection of mementos. Therefore, our emphasis is on collecting documents rather than on collecting artifacts.

Scope of the Archival Collection

1. Collect only the permanent records of IMSA and organizations or groups that are directly related to IMSA. Do not keep documents from other institutions, e.g., the collection development policy of the Aurora University Library.

2. Do not look for or save newspaper articles. IMSA receives articles about the Academy from a clipping service.

3. Keep only one copy of most items. Exceptions are student publications, IMSA publications, and commencement programs when 3 copies may be saved.


It is the responsibility of archives workers to preserve the records as carefully as possible so that they will be available to researchers for many years to come. The measures listed below are necessary to retard or prevent the deterioration of or damage to archival records.

1. Be sure your hands and the work area are clean before working with archival materials.
2. Rule of Reversibility: Do nothing to archival records or containers that is not reversible. Never use ink or markers. Never use tape of any kind. Never use glue. Do not attach archival records to another piece of paper or other material in any permanent manner. Only archival paper clips are acceptable and then only when necessary to keep multi-page items together.

3. Professional archival standards require the use of acid-free folders and boxes to preserve materials. Materials used in the making of paper contribute to the formation of acids within the structure and fiber of the paper. High acidity leads to hydrolysis of the molecules that make up the paper and, in turn, causes the paper to discolor, become brittle, and deteriorate over time. It is important that folders and containers be acid-free because acid can migrate and affect the materials they hold. Never use substances that are not acid-free, such as ink, White-Out, tape, or glue, on archival containers.

4. Do not use plastic containers or enclosures that are not specifically for archival use.

Some plastics will react with the enclosed records. Archivally safe plastics for use
with documents include polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene and triacetate.
Remove plastic report covers from archival records and place documents in an acid
free folder instead.
Be sure that any plastic enclosures used for photographs are specifically designed
for the archival preservation of photos. Some plastics will hasten the deterioration
of photos or stick to them so that the image is eventually removed from the backing.

5. Do not use rubber bands on archival records or containers. Rubber bands can break or tear the edges of paper. As rubber bands age, they become tacky, causing papers next to them to stick together. Eventually the rubber bands harden and can be difficult to remove without causing damage and staining.

6. Do not use string on archival records or containers. String can break or tear the edges of paper.

7. Do not use any paper clips that are not made especially for archival use. Many metal fasteners will rust or corrode, which weakens and stains the paper.

8. Never use fasteners of any kind on photographs, artwork or records of high intrinsic value.

There is no fastener that does not leave some kind of imprint or damage.

9. Unfold anything that will fit in a container unfolded.

10.Never fold photographs, artwork or records of high intrinsic value.

1 l.No food or drink is ever allowed anywhere in the Archives Room.
Food and drink can attract insects and rodents that damage records and can also lead to accidental damage or destruction of materials.

12.Do not write on documents unless it is necessary for identification or for providing a date. Use pencil only. Such information should be written unobtrusively in a corner or on the back of the document. If written in brackets, it will alert the researcher that that information was provided by archives staff and not by the source of the document. Do not write personal comments or opinions on documents. Keep records in their pristine state and do nothing to harm their integrity.

13.Never use ink on any archival records, folders or containers.
A no. 2 pencil should always be used instead.

14.Never overstuff folders or boxes. This causes damage to materials. Folders may be expanded by folding them where they are scored on the bottom. Do not add your own folds. If there is too much material for one folder, add another folder.

l5.Handle photographs only on the edges to avoid damage from the oils in your fingers and hands.

16. These items should never be among archival supplies: pens, glue, tape, White-Out.


There are 2 fundamental principles of arrangement of archival materials:

A. Provenance -- Records should be grouped according to the organization, office, department or person that created them.

B . Original order -- Records should be maintained in the order in which they were
kept by the organization, of fice, department or person that created or assembled

1. Do not group records by subject but instead by originating office or department.

2. File records trom the same department or office together.

3. Never interfile records from various departments or offices.

4. When files are received from an office:
Keep the original file folder names. The only permissible change is to add
dates when the folders are not dated. (See #5 below.)
Keep the files in their original order.
Do not file any other materials into the file folders.

5. Indicate exact inclusive dates on file folder labels.
If the folder contains materials from one meeting, use the date of the meeting.

Example: Board of Trustees Meeting, Sept. 4, 1988 If the folder contains materials from 1988 through 1990, use the inclusive dates.

Example: Presentation Day, 1988-1990 If the folder contains materials from 1988-1989 and from 1991-1992, record the exact dates covered.

Example: Presentation Day, 1988-1989, 1991-1992


IMSA Last Modified: 22 April 2011 IMSA Archives
Copyright ©2011 IMSA Archives