Why donate student organization records?

Students are an important part of Hopkins, but while University Archives has extensive records of administrative and academic departments, student organizations are underrepresented. To ensure that the history of student life, as seen through the eyes of students and not administrators, faculty, or staff, is sufficiently documented, student organizations should donate their inactive records to University Archives. These records are essential to fully documenting and understanding the history of Johns Hopkins because they tell a story of the university that is missing from the official records.

University Archives will preserve these records and make them accessible to future generations. Physical material (papers, photo prints, etc.) will be housed in acid-free folders and boxes and stored in proper environmental conditions. Digital records will be transferred to and preserved on secure Library servers. Once the records are donated, they become the property of University Archives and can be viewed in the Special Collections reading room, located in the Brody Learning Commons. Copies of materials will also be made available to patrons by request. We are happy to provide reference services, including copying of materials, for current members of student organizations who need to refer to records that their organization has transferred to University Archives.

Tips for preserving student organization history

Document the activities of your group: Keep minutes of meetings and membership rosters; save copies of publications, fliers, and other promotional material; take photographs of members, meetings, and events. Don’t rely on third-party applications like Facebook group pages to store your photographs and membership information.

  • Label your materials with full names, dates, and descriptions of events or circumstances.
  • Keep your records together in one central place. Assign a member to be secretary every year and have them pass information to a successor annually.
  • Develop a straightforward filing system that works for your organization. There’s no one best way to do this.
  • Store your physical records away from dampness, dust, excessive heat, and sun.
  • Develop a routine of transferring inactive records to University Archives at the end of the semester, year, or your leader’s term of office.
  • Consider the fate of your non-paper documents. Digital records can pose software and hardware access problems. Save CDs/DVDs, memorabilia, photographs, posters, sound recordings, and videos, as well as traditional paper documents. Contact University Archives if you have materials on websites or social media pages that we can export and preserve.
  • Get to know the staff of University Archives and learn more about our activities and collections.
  • When in doubt, don’t throw it out! Contact University Archives to arrange a donation or learn more about how to preserve your organization’s records.

What student organization records does University Archives collect?

Please note that the below content types can be collected in either physical or digital form. See our FAQ for more information.

  • charters
  • by-laws
  • mission statements
  • founding documents
  • histories
  • minutes and minute books
  • agendas
  • newsletters
  • scrapbooks
  • memos
  • correspondence
  • event planning files
  • certificates of recognition
  • publications produced by the student organization
  • promotional materials
  • photographs of the group, members, meetings, and events
  • membership lists and membership registers
  • sound recordings or videos of group events
  • summary financial data, such as final budget statements or annual financial reports
  • publicly available web presences of organizations such as websites, Facebook groups, and Twitter (NOTE: We can collect password-protected sites if provided the password.)

What does University Archives NOT collect?

  • active records (records still in use or regularly referred to by the organization)
  • bank statements and canceled checks
  • university-wide memos, announcements, etc., unless they relate directly to the organization or events in which the organization participated or organized
  • university publications, such as the News-Letter, the Johns Hopkins Magazine or Hullabaloo yearbooks (we have other ways of collecting these)
  • books
  • three-dimensional objects, such as plaques, buttons, t-shirts, pins and other jewelry, uniforms, and other items used to carry out the missions and activities of the organization (NOTE: We have limited space for collecting these kinds of objects and only accept those that best document the activities of your organization.)

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I get started donating our organization’s records to University Archives?

    First, determine if any of the records fit into the types of material that University Archives collects. If they do, please contact us to begin the process of transferring these records. If you have questions about whether these records belong in the University Archives, we are available to review your organization’s records and determine their value for the archives. Contact us before sending records to University Archives. Do not send records to us without prior notice.

  • What about digital records?

    Given the preponderance of digital information in today’s world, it is important that we collect this information. Therefore, we are interested in acquiring not only your organization’s paper records, but also your organization’s digital information, including, but not limited to, email, listserv archives, spreadsheets, databases, PDFs, Word processing files, websites (including social media sites like Facebook), photographs, sound recordings, and video.

  • What about materials I have related to student life that aren’t student organization records?

    University Archives actively collects, preserves and makes available materials documenting student life and culture at JHU. Our collections contain student diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, class notes and student work and other materials documenting involvement in extra-curricular activities, clubs and sports. These materials provide a snapshot of the student experience at JHU – academic, social, cultural and personal. Social movements taking place at JHU, in Baltimore, in the US and the world are reflected in these materials as well.

    Student materials of interest include:

    • Diaries, letters, and scrapbooks
    • Photographs and drawings
    • Audio and video recordings
    • Course notes, syllabi, and assignments
    • Student publications
    • Memorabilia, flyers, posters, and other records of student organizations