Leaflet #4

"Family and Consumer Sciences Education - Preserving Archival Collections"

October 2001

This is the fourth of a series of technical leaflets that will be distributed by the ISU Special Collections Department.  The Special Collections Department was founded in 1969, and collects papers, records, rare books, and other items that relate to Iowa State University, agriculture and rural life, and science and technology.  The history of home economics, now family and consumer sciences, has been a part of Iowa State’s history from the very beginning. 


The purpose of Leaflet #4 is to provide information for potential family and consumer sciences donors on the types of materials archival repositories are interested in collecting.




Society of American Archivists:  A Guide
To obtain a complete copy of the Guide, please contact the Special Collections Dept., Iowa State University Library

Why an Archives?:  An archives can provide environmentally-secure storage, safeguard records during their handling and use, and can provide research access.  By placing papers and records in an archives, you are preserving them for the future.

Access:  The archives should have policies and procedures in place for the use of records and/or their care.  If you have any special concerns, they should be discussed with the repository prior to donation.

Copyright:  Copyright assignment is a complex issue and should be discussed with the repository prior to donation.

Deed of Gift:  Most archives will expect that legal title will be transferred when the collection is donated.  Not owning material severely restricts an archives ability to care for records properly.



Selecting the appropriate repository can often take time and research. Your papers and records should go to an institution that collects materials relating to you or the history of family and consumer sciences.  It is appropriate to explore possible collection sites that reflect your professional background or geographical area first.  Following is a suggested sequence of steps:

  • Check with your university alma mater

University Archives often collect the papers and memorabilia of alumni, and your papers may very well fit in with the institution’s collecting policy.

  • Check with state/regional repositories

A state archives or historical society may be interested in documenting your area, region, or state history. 

  • Check with a repository specializing in the history of family and consumer sciences




Archives are usually interested in collecting the following types of material from individuals and organizations:


                        • Letters and Correspondence
                        • Articles of incorporation
                        • Diaries
                        • Correspondence
                        • Professional Papers
                        • Clippings
                        • Speeches, Lectures, and Presentations
                        • Meeting minutes
                        • Subject Files
                        • Newsletters
                        • Minutes and Reports
                        • Brochures
                        • Photographs (Identified with Pencil)
                        • Flyers
                        • Films and Videotapes (Labeled)
                        • Reports
                        • Memoirs and Reminiscences
                        • Membership information
                        • Scrapbooks and Photograph Albums
                        • Scrapbooks
                        • Constitution and by-laws
                        • Speeches


                        Archives are charged with maintaining and providing access to the materials collected in perpetuity.  Given the large amounts of records being created daily, it is necessary for archivists to focus on only collecting those materials of the highest value.  Please check with an archivist before discarding anything, but some general guidelines include the following kinds of material:

                                          • Applications for Employment
                                          • Maintenance service files
                                          • Bank Statements
                                          • Supplies and Equipment Records
                                          • Budget Files (excepting annual reports)
                                          • Telephone Bills
                                          • Cancelled Checks
                                          • Travel Reimbursement Files
                                          • Contracts/Leases
                                          • Surplus Property Files
                                          • General Conference Records
                                          • Receipts
                                          • Personnel Files
                                          • Purchase Orders
                                          • General Financial Records (past 7 years should be kept for auditing purposes)
                                          • Mailing Lists
                                          • Attendance Lists
                                          • Grant Administration Files


                                          Documents, manuscripts, maps, posters, ephemera, newspapers and postcards are all made of paper.  Paper will deteriorate without appropriate protection.  It is important for personal and professional papers to be stored in a cool, dark place with stable temperature and relative humidity.  It is especially important they not be stored in an attic, basement, or garage where dust and drastic changes in temperature and humidity accelerate the deterioration of the paper.  Using storage folders and boxes to help protect papers from the environment will assist in their long-term preservation. 

                                          Providing a Protective Environment

                                          • Ideal relative humidity: approximately 40-55%
                                          • Ideal temperature: approximately 60-65 degrees Farenheit
                                          • Consistent relative humidity and temperature is extremely important
                                          • Protect materials from dust and other pollutants
                                          • Protect materials from light
                                          • Protect from pests and mold

                                          Select the Appropriate Storage Materials

                                          • Always use archival-quality storage materials (see list of suppliers in this leaflet), including  acid-free paper, folders, and boxes
                                          • Use Mylar, a stable polyester, or polypropylene or polyethylene for photographs and specific documents
                                          • Always use reproductions for display

                                          Preparing Materials for Storage

                                          • Store documents upright (with support) in acid-free folders in acid-free boxes
                                          • Match document size with its container
                                          • Do not overstuff folders or boxes
                                          • Label folders and boxes as to contents and dates—this alleviates wear and tear when looking for an item
                                          • Utilize appropriate storage containers for oversized materials (oversized storage boxes) or ephemera such as postcards or magazines (individual polyester enclosures)

                                          Do Not:

                                          • Do not laminate any item you wish to preserve for the long-term--lamination can cause long-term damage
                                          • Do not use tape or glue on your materials
                                          • Do not display any document or photograph of value—sunlight and light will cause irreparable damage
                                          • Do not use magnetic “sticky” albums
                                          • Do not use any item made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
                                          • Do not consider digitizing your photographs as a long-term preservation option.  It is unclear how long digital images will last, due to rapid changes in technology and impermanence of storage formats (e.g. CD-Roms)


                                          • Remove all fasteners and extraneous materials—paper clips, rubber bands, staples
                                          • Do not remove fasteners if doing so will cause additional damage
                                          • Flatten documents (remove from envelopes if necessary)
                                          • Use stainless steel paperclips or Plastiklips to attach related documents, or an envelope to a letter
                                          • Separate newspaper clippings. 
                                          • Identify documents and photographs if necessary with a soft #2 pencil—on the back and along the margins.  Note authors and date, if known.
                                          • Separate fragile or torn documents—sleeve in protective enclosures and store in folders


                                          Sources for Archival Supplies  


                                          Conservation Resources
                                          8000-H Forbes Place
                                          Springfield, VA 22151

                                          Gaylord Brothers
                                          Box 4901
                                          Syracuse, NY 13221-4901

                                          The Highsmith Company, Inc.
                                          W5527 Highway 106
                                          P.O. Box 800
                                          Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800

                                          Hollinger Corporation
                                          3810 South Four Mile Run Drive
                                          P.O. Box 6185
                                          Arlington, VA 22206

                                          Light Impressions
                                          439 Monroe Avenue
                                          P.O. Box 940
                                          Rochester, NY 14603-0940

                                          Nast Industries
                                          P.O. Drawer 3776
                                          Ocala, FL 32678

                                          213 West 35th Street
                                          New York, NY 10001-1996

                                          University Products
                                          P.O. Box 101
                                          South Canal Street
                                          Holyoke, MA 01041



                                          For additional information, please contact:

                                          Special Collections and University Archives

                                          403 Parks Library

                                          Iowa State University

                                          Ames, IA  50011-2102

                                          Telephone:  (515) 294-6672

                                          E-mail: archives@iastate.edu