Donations of Archival Material

UTARMS collects the official administrative records of the UofT as well as the personal archival records of faculty and staff, and the administrative records of organizations closely associated with the University, such as student or advocacy groups. Through each of these types of material, we aim to document the impact of research, teaching, and decision-making at the University, as well as capturing the institution as a social space.

These two latter groups of records - personal archival records and external organizational records - are considered private records and are donated as gifts-in-kind to the University. Archivists evaluate various aspects of the material and its content to ensure that UTARMS is a suitable repository for offered material. Once we have accepted the material, we work together with donors through the process of donation, arrangement, and description.

Below are some common questions regarding the types of material we accept, the process of donation, and access to material. We also encourage you to reach out to the Private Records Archivist directly with further questions, concerns, or to express interest in donating material. If you are a University staff member looking for information on transferring administrative records to the Archives, please see the Records Management page.

What types of material is UTARMS interested in?

UTARMS collects the records of individuals that document professional and personal activities including research and collaboration, teaching, publishing, volunteer activities outside the University, and personal records. From organizations, we look for material that captures decision-making, events, publications and activities, committee work, and the management of finances.

We accept varied records types including the following in both analogue and digital formats:

  • textual: emails, letters, publication drafts, spreadsheets, reports, lecture, research and presentation notes, journals and diaries, publicity material, minutes
  • special media: photographs, film and video, audio sound recordings, architectural drawings, artworks
  • online: websites, social media profiles & posts
Can you accept digital material that I can no longer access, e.g. floppy disks?

Yes, depending on the age and condition of the disks, we may be able to retrieve the information from the media carrier. We are most interested in retrieving content that is not already available in paper or duplicated in other digital records. The Digital Archivist will work with you to determine the best approach.

If possible, please let us know whether the floppy disks are formatted for a Windows computer or Mac and their age, as this will affect how we retrieve the information stored on the disks.

What is the process of donation?

If you are interested in donating personal records or external administrative records to UTARMS, please contact the Private Records Archivist. An archivist will then follow up with further questions and/or plan a visit to better understand the content, condition, and scope of the material.

UTARMS then makes an appraisal decision on whether to accept the donation. If accepted, an archivist will arrange for the transfer of the records to the Archives via local pick-up, courier, or cloud transfer.

Throughout this process, archivists will also discuss the donation agreement. This document outlines and transfers the legal ownership of the records, and establishes the conditions of the donation, including copyright, any access restrictions you may want to apply, and gift-in-kind receipting. Once ownership is transferred to the University, archivists arrange and describe the records, working with the donor to ensure accuracy and necessary context.

Is it necessary to organize the material prior to donation?

No, reorganization of the material is not necessary as archivists will work with you to ensure that critical information is gathered to contextualize the records and reflect how the material was understood and used. Please discuss any prior work you want to do with the material with archivist you are in touch with or the Private Records Archivist.

How do you access material donated to the archives?

Once the records are described, both analogue and digital material will be made available to researchers in our reading room following the access conditions outlined in the donation agreement. Donors also have access to material through our reading room.

Will material donated to UTARMS be digitized and made available online?

While we aim to provide digital access where possible, digitization itself requires significant resources to ensure legal and ethical requirements are met before making material available online. For this reason, archivists only select material for digitization in line with departmental priorities and in consideration of any concerns regarding privacy, culturally sensitive information, and intellectual property. We encourage you to think about your expectations in this area prior to donation and discuss this with an archivist.