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Donations and Transfers of Digital Records


Donors should first contact University Archives and Records Management (UARM) staff. Once contact has been established, donors are required to complete a Deed of Gift form for the records that they wish to bequeath to UARM. When the form is completed archives staff will work with the donor to discuss the best method to transfer digital records safely to the archives.

Internal Departmental Transfer

University records contacts (or other assigned staff member) should be responsible for transferring files to UARM. Please contact UARM staff for assistance if needed, particularly if you have no in-unit Information Technologies staff. Transfer of records can be conducted in several ways contingent on the type of records and the personal technical environment of the transferee. UARM staff will work with university units to assess how best to transfer the records for preservation.

Initial survey

Photograph of Emalea Pusey Warner and Dean Winifred Josephine Robinson talking, taken shortly before the opening of the Women’s College of Delaware. August 7, 1914.

Photograph of Emalea Pusey Warner and Dean Winifred Josephine Robinson talking, taken shortly before the opening of the Women’s College of Delaware. August 7, 1914.

When taking custody of digital records, it is necessary for the archives to allocate the requisite storage space and to be aware of potential issues such as obsolete or uncommon file formats. Before custody of the records can be taken, please provide the following information:

  1. Estimated total size of the digital assets or gross size estimate (MBs, GBs, etc.)
  2. Record types (including operating system, software and file formats)
    • MS Office documents (e.g. MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access etc. files)
    • PDF files
    • Other word-processing documents (e.g. OpenOffice, WordPerfect, etc.)
    • Spreadsheets and databases (e.g. Lotus, MySQL or FileMaker files)
    • Still images and/or photographs (e.g. tiff or jpeg files)
    • Video (e.g. AVI or MPEG files)
    • Audio (e.g. mp3 or WAV files)
    • Email (i.e. MS Outlook, Gmail)
    • Websites and weblogs (URLs)
    • Online groups (e.g. Google or Yahoo groups)
    • Social networks (e.g. Facebook)
    • Microblogging tools (e.g. Twitter)
    • Photo/Video sharing sites (e.g. Flickr, YouTube)

Methods of Transfer

UARM accepts several methods of transfer. Each method has requirements that must be considered when transferring digital records. This ensures that the records are more easily organized and therefore more usable in the long term.

Physical Transfer

The following portable media types are acceptable:

  • 3.5” diskette
  • CD
  • DVD
  • Hard drive
  • USB flash drive
  • ZIP cartridge

Please ensure that all hard drives have been reformatted erase all previously deleted files. If the hard drive is not reformatted, previously deleted files will persist on the hard drive and be transferred inadvertently to UARM. Deleting files in most programs commonly only removes pointers to the files and leaves the original file intact on the disk and available for retrieval by specialized software. The long-term digital preservation process will usually require making and preserving a complete “disk image” of the transported disk. UARM reserves the right not to keep deleted files captured during the forensic disk reading.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

For the FTP transfer of electronic records, it is preferable that the transferee put the files in a tar format. For Microsoft Windows format files, zip format is preferred if:

  1. Zero compression is used;
  2. Full filename is used; and
  3. Full file path is kept. Use compression level Store within 7-Zip for zero compression.

If compression must be used, ensure that it is lossless. This option is available in 7-Zip, WinZip, and Stuffit programs. Make sure that all hierarchical file mappings and relationships are captured as part of the compressed file generation.

Network Transfer

If read-only privileges to the network server and directory where the electronic records are stored can be granted, UARM staff can transfer the records directly from the network. To arrange for this method of record transfer, contact UARM staff.

IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY: digital transfers can be submitted through the usual means either physically or through network transfer through the University’s Dropbox system. If transfers need to be physically transferred UARM prefers the information be stored on hard drives without drive or folder encryption.

Organizing Documents

Photograph of a sign for land of Women's College.

Photograph of a sign for land of Women’s College. “This tract of land 19 acres has been purchased for a site. Upon which will be erected the women’s college affiliated with Delaware College the affiliated commission.” June 16, 1913.

File name and location within a file directory and how a file is managed in an electronic records management system are integral descriptive and structural information that is generated by the records creator. In addition, some metadata, such as file type and creation date, are usually procedurally generated.

If the hard drive used for transporting archival content to the UARM includes materials from multiple computers or accounts, please retain their provenance by keeping files from each creator in separate directories, i.e.:
Office Files/Editors/Bill Whittle/… (files from Bill Whittle’s computer)
Office Files/Editors/Sally Monroe/… (files from Sally Monroe’s computer)
Email/Editors/Bill Whittle/… (email account of Bill Whittle)

Electronic document folders should be arranged similarly your paper files. A rudimentary file directory that reflects the true functions of an individual’s method, office, or organization is the best way to manage your records. In many cases, the files will not be individually inspected and manually re-arranged by the archivist after the transfer. It should not be necessary to engage in a wholesale reorganization of the local filing system. The intention is to keep the digital records in or close to their original order.

Required Documentation

Links are provided on this website to forms that detail transfer requirement fields that must coincide with a donation or transfer of digital records to UARM. The transfer manifest must include:

  • Title of records
  • Date range of records
  • Department, unit or office creating the record
  • Staff person transferring the records
  • Transfer date
  • Transfer delivered to [Archives staff person]
  • Transfer method
  • Record format(s)
  • Number of records in the transfer
  • Total size of the transfer
  • Folder and file list
  • Important notes