GUIDELINES FOR RETENTION AND DISPOSITION OF RECORDS
A Philosophy on Record Retention and Disposition
For Mennonite Church Boards and Agencies
Records are important. However, the long-range retention of all records is not important. Since not all records have equal value, discretion must be exercised in determining what records are retained, what records are destroyed, where records are located, who becomes the archivist for non-current records, and what are the archival functions.
The determination of how long records should be retained will be based on a number of factors. Records may be important for legal reasons, for historical and research purposes, and / or for the ongoing administrative and financial functions of the organization. These must all be reviewed in making judgments on retention and disposition of records.
There are records that are confidential in nature, either for a period of time or permanently, and the respect for and management of that confidentiality must be honored. At the same time, most records need to be preserved in such a way that they are accessible and of service to those who can make profitable use of their contents.
It is intended that guidelines can be established which will give a degree of uniformity to the various Mennonite Church organizations in their treatment of records retention and disposition, and at the same time permit the degree of flexibility necessary in each particular organization as dictated by its needs and circumstances.
Section I. General Policies
I-A. Ownership of materials.
Records of organizations and agencies of the Mennonite Church are the property of the Mennonite Church, Incorporated.
I-B. Location of materials.
Materials from church-wide Mennonite boards and agencies and conference bodies having historical value are to be transferred to the Archives of the Mennonite Church when and / or after they are no longer needed for active use by the organization that has produced them.
I-B. Location of materials (Continued)
Whether or not archival materials of regional offices of church-wide boards and agencies would be located at the regional location or at the Archives of the Mennonite Church is to be based on anticipated use of the materials and whether or not it is good stewardship for the regional office to provide staffing and space for retaining and making accessible these materials for church uses at the regional setting.
Some regional conference bodies and agencies may also wish to locate materials at the Archives of the Mennonite Church. (Those that choose to place materials in regional archives should see that inventory listings of such material are sent to the Archives of the Mennonite Church, for the sake of coordination of the overall program of historical research and interpretation.)
I-C. Destruction of materials.
Certain records and informational materials are to be destroyed at such time that their usefulness has terminated. (See Section II for designation of records to be retained and destroyed.)
If the Director of the Archives of the Mennonite Church considers it advisable to destroy or to microfilm and destroy any of the materials deposited in the Archives by the Mennonite Church boards, committees, etc., written permission shall be obtained from the chief executive officer in question before such action is taken.
Each agency of the Mennonite Church depositing materials in the Mennonite Church Archives shall sign an agreement with the Archives which defines the terms of transfer, noting any special collections or those portions of the Archives which are to be placed under restrictions as to use. (See Attachment 2)
It is assumed that staffing and space costs of retaining and making accessible materials at the Archives will be equal to or less than staffing and space costs for agencies to place such materials in safe and accessible locations elsewhere. In the future, costs of retention of the materials agencies wish to have kept in the Archives will be based on a
I-E Costs (Continued)
formula that takes into consideration the total linear feet of space used by that specific agency. This formula will be discussed by the Archives with
the agencies in the Coordinating council and approved by the Mennonite Church General Board, in consultation with the agencies involved.
I-F. Dissolution: In event of agency dissolution.
In dissolving an agency, the board of control of that agency will dispose of all then-current archival materials, in line with specific guidelines outlined in this document. Under the Mennonite Church General Board, the Archives of the Mennonite Church then has full responsibility for the retention, possible destruction, and use of the agency’s materials.
I-G. Public use.
Public use of materials of historical nature, whether in custody of the originating organization or of the Archives of the Mennonite Church, is to be governed by guidelines established between the organization and the Director of the Archives.
I-H. Archiving by originating agency.
Reports, minutes and other documents created by one agency and used by another agency should be archived by the originating agency and not by the other agency, unless specific material is used as part of its program.
Flexibility within the spirit and purposes of these guidelines is suggested to allow agencies to work with their unique procedures, schedules, and/or materials.
Section II. Designation of records to be retained, destroyed,
and transferred to Mennonite Church Archives
II-A. Records to be permanently retained at the originating organization (we recommend the organization follow professional archival procedures for care of these materials, such as making permanent photocopies of earlier "purple-master" [spirit-process] materials, photocopying newspaper-quality materials, and maintaining permanent materials in acid-free folders.):
II-A. Records to be permanently retained by originating organization (Cont’d)
1. Constitution and Bylaws, other official organization documents.
2. Official copies of minutes and reports of boards and committees.
3. Annual audited financial reports.
4. Legal and contractual documents of the organization.
5. Academic records of students.
II-B. Records to be destroyed. The time stated is the number of years after the creation of the item unless otherwise noted.
1. Notices of meetings, memos, etc.---after three or four years.
2. Canceled checks, vouchers, invoices, receipts, and other financial records of this type – after ten years.
3. Miscellaneous correspondence of routine nature, contribution acknowledgment letters, etc. – after ten years.
4. Records (including correspondence) from counseling of non-staff persons, except as required for II-C-7—ten years after conclusion of counseling.
5. Evaluative material from personnel files including counseling, psychiatric and medical reports, forms and letters of reference and performance appraisals — ten years after termination of employment.
6. Applications and files of persons not employed – after five or six years.
7. Student personnel files – after five or six years after the student has left the institution.
II-C. Materials to be transferred to Mennonite Archives. The times stated are the number of years after the creation of records unless otherwise noted.
1. Program materials (textual – correspondence, reports, scripts and the like; audiovisuals; etc.) — after they are no longer needed by the agency, normally ten or twelve years. Certain materials such as books, periodicals, and tapes may be transferred more frequently. Each organization will need to establish a consistent pattern of saving all or only samples of certain program materials, which are to be sent to the Archives office.
II-C. Materials to be transferred to Mennonite Archives (Continued)
2. Correspondence, minutes, and reports from program files which deal with issues involving personnel relationships may be identified by the respective program administrator so that when program files are transferred to the Archives, these materials will be filed separately for restricted use only.
3. Official copies of annual reports, board and committee minutes, with all exhibits and attachments, are to be retained as part of the organization’s permanent records and duplicate copies sent to the Archives office on an annual basis. The Archives will take the initiative in requesting these materials.
4. Correspondence, reports, and documents related to estate planning and negotiations on major gifts would be transferred to the Archives for restricted use only after the agency has no need for them.
5. Financial records (other than annual audited financial reports – see II-A-3), such as books of original entry, under certain conditions should be transferred to the Archives (for restricted use only) at the point they become non-current. (Transfer of such items to be negotiated with the Director of the Archives.)
6. Correspondence (except that which is considered personal counseling) and records of date (application, job assignment, salary, time sheets) from personnel files will be transferred to the Archives after they are no longer needed by the agency, normally ten or more years after termination of employment for restricted use.
7. One to 25 percent (based on volume of materials to be transferred) of correspondence, interview reports, and counselor notations from counseling of non-staff persons will be selected at random for copying and transferred to the Archives for restricted use only.
Prior to copying, names and addresses are to be blocked out to remove identity. Transfer is to be done at whatever point an agency no longer desires to retain the materials in its own files. Systematically selected samples of informational and publicity type materials are to be transferred to the Archives annually.
II-C. Materials to be transferred to Mennonite Archives (Continued)
8. The attached sample agreement indicates the kinds of items that may be included in actual agreements, which will vary with the needs of the various programs of the Mennonite Church. (See Attachment 2)
Section III. Implementation and Amendment Provisions
These guidelines become effective upon recommendation of the Coordinating Council and approval of the Mennonite Church General Board.
These guidelines may be amended upon recommendation of the Coordinating Council and approval of the Mennonite Church General Board. In preparing a specific recommendation for amendment, the Coordinating Council may wish to counsel with and/or request the affirmation of some or all boards, or, due to the minor nature of the amendment or for other reason, it may indicate by consensus that is does not see this as necessary in the specific instance.
Attachment 1. Implementing the "Guidelines for Retention and Disposition of Records", An Operational Statement
Attachment 2. Sample Agreement between Mennonite Church Organization and Archives.
Guidelines approved by Mennonite Church Coordinating Council, March 7, 1989
Guidelines approved by Mennonite Church General Board, April 6-8, 1989
Earliest guidelines were written by the Historical Committee of the Mennonite Church in 1953, and approved by General Council on April 9-10, 1953, and approved by Mennonite General Conference, August 26-30, 1953, Action 45, Item 84. These 1953 guidelines were printed in Mennonite General Conference Report, August 26-30, 1953, Kitchener, Ontario, Exhibit XVIII, B, p. 64.
April 30, 2002 / Computer file by Dennis Stoesz, Goshen Archives
File: "GuidesRetention1989.doc" [M: \Archives Guide and Manual]
Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee, Goshen, Indiana, and North Newton, Kansas
"Guidelines for Retention and Disposition of Records"
AN OPERATIONAL STATEMENT
A. The person in charge of records management at each institution needs to set up retention schedules for all materials based on the Guidelines.
B. A workable coding system then needs to be devised to fit the retention schedules. In this way, materials which are later to be discarded can be so coded. This will make the purging of files at a later date less time consuming and thus more efficient.
C. Transfer schedules need to be set up in conjunction with the archivist. If materials are filed departmentally, it may mean that it might be more desirable to send the files in time blocks larger than one year, perhaps five years. (E.g., 1980 to 1985 materials could be transferred in one group in 1995.)
A. Records will be filed using a coding method for retention purposes.
B. Acid-free folders will be used for permanent materials.
A. Purge the files using the codes in order to discard those items marked for the end of the year.
B. Send minutes (with attachments) and annual reports (with attachments) to the Archives.
IV. At time of transfer
A. The final purge of the files.
B. Sampling of (photo) copying of any materials should be done at this point.
C. Type the inventories
D. Clearly mark the restricted materials.
E. Label and number the boxes clearly and pack well for shipping.
SAMPLE AGREEMENT BETWEEN MENNONITE CHURCH
ORGANIZATION AND ARCHIVES
This agreement is between ________________________________________ and the Archives of the Mennonite Church for materials placed on deposit with the Archives office for archival services. This agreement includes the following:
A. The originating agency and the Archives each has rights and responsibilities for the maintenance, use, and retention of materials transferred.
B. It is understood that materials are placed on deposit in the Archives of the Mennonite Church for reference and research both by the organization that has placed them and others interested in scholarly investigation.
C. Records shall not be removed from the Archives except when special permission is given by the chief executive officer of the originating organization.
D. A receipt of deposit will be issued from the office of the Archives of the Mennonite Church for each new shipment of materials, acknowledging that the materials which arrive correspond to the inventories.
E. The inventories serve as an index for the boards and agencies, facilitating the referencing of the material. The files, with the exception of certain restricted documents, will be considered open for scholarly research. Materials less than 25 years old are to be restricted, to be used only with formal permission of the originating agency. Photocopies of materials will be supplied, where feasible, in response to information requests by agency personnel. If the original materials are to be removed, the request must come from the chief executive officer of the agency in question. Except in the case of materials returned to originating agency for program use, such recalled materials shall be considered as being on loan and shall be returned within a specified mutually-agreed-upon time period.
F. Although the Archives has its own methods of categorizing materials, and on its own places restrictions upon certain types of materials, each board or committee, etc., making the transfer of records should determine which materials are of a confidential nature, such as personnel folders or correspondence relating to personnel or other confidential correspondence and records.
Attachment 2, Sample Agreement (Continued)
G. Permission for research use of items deposited under "restricted use" is to be given by the executive officer of the originating agency. The monitoring of the usage of materials in this category is to be the responsibility of the director of the Archives.
H. If the director of the Archives of the Mennonite Church considers it advisable to destroy or to microfilm and destroy any of the materials deposited in the Archives by the Mennonite Church boards, committees, etc., written permission shall be obtained from the chief executive officer in question before such action is taken.
I. Schedules for shipment of files will be drawn up in consultation with the director of the Archives and in accordance with the retention needs of the agency.
J. This agreement hereby allows for negotiations by both parties should there be need to revise existing agreements. Any new agreements written should clarify their relationship to previous agreements.
Agreed to this ____________ day of __________________, 20___
Archives Archives of the Mennonite Church
Additional comments: ____________________________________