Records Transfer Instructions

The Duke University Medical Center Archives (DUMCA) collects and preserves departmental and administrative permanent records (except for patient records) on an annual basis. We are available to assist you with evaluating, boxing, and moving materials from your department to ours. Contact us for more information or to plan your first transfer: 919-383-2653 or dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

The DUMCA does not accept patient records. If you have patient records, contact Duke Procurement about Confidential Records Storage for further instructions on Duke approved vendors.

A Departmental Records Liaison reviews files annually for materials to transfer to the DUMCA or destroy based on a records retention schedule. A Departmental Records Liaison represents their office or department in records policy matters and works with the DUMCA to coordinate and implement the policies and procedures of the Medical Center’s records management program in their department.

For files to be transferred to DUMCA:

Step 1.

Review the records to be transferred. They must not contain patient records. For further description of the kinds of materials departments may transfer, see the Archival Records Guidelines and the Retention & Disposition Guidelines.

Archives staff is available for consultation about record types, retention, and transfer by calling 919-383-2653 or sending an email to dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

Step 2.

Order archival records boxes from the DUMCA by contacting 919-383-2653 or dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

Only boxes obtained from the DUMCA should be used to transfer records. Archival records boxes measure 12 in x 15 in x 10 in. Oversize boxes and folders are available upon request for materials that cannot fit within these dimensions without being bent or folded.

1 full file drawer = approximately 2 boxes.

Step 3.

Place records in boxes. Files should be boxed in the order in which they were originally organized. Remove rubbed bands and binder clips whenever possible.

Do not overfill. A properly packed box will have:

  • A lid that lies flat across the top
  • Sides that are not bent
  • Roughly an inch of space at the back

Properly packed box with a lid that lies flat across the top of the box.

Files packed correctly with roughly an inch of space in the back, or packed loosely enough to easily fit a hand in between file folders.

Hanging file folders, binders, and scrapbooks should be packed lying flat. If packed upright, these containers can crush the boxes and damage files.

Properly packed hanging file folders laid flat.

Properly packed binders laid flat.

Properly packed hanging file folders and binders laid flat that do not rise above the top of the box to ensure the box lid lies flat across the top of the box.

Hanging file folders packed incorrectly. When hanging file folders are packed this way they damage the sides of the box and do not allow the box lid to lie flat across the top of the box.

Binders packed incorrectly with front and side views. When packed this way binders can damage the box because of their weight, and also do not allow the box lid to lie flat across the top of the box.

Binders packed incorrectly with front and side views. When packed this way binders can damage the box because of their weight, and also do not allow the box lid to lie flat across the top of the box.

Keep other files in labeled folders. If file folders are not already marked, label file folders in pencil. Place file folders standing upright with labels facing forward.

File folders packed correctly with front and top views. Folder folders should be place in a box with all writing facing toward the front with roughly an inch of space in the back, or packed loosely enough to easily fit a hand in between file folders.

File folders packed correctly with front and top views. Folder folders should be place in a box with all writing facing toward the front with roughly an inch of space in the back, or packed loosely enough to easily fit a hand in between file folders.

Do not fold or bend any records to fit the boxes. Archives staff will provide additional oversize boxes or folders to transfer these materials. If you have any questions about how to pack an oversized item, contact the DUMCA by calling 919-383-2653 or emailing dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

Step 4.

Label the front of the outside of the box with:

  • The name of the transferring office or department
  • The types of records contained in the box
  • The chronological range of the box’s contents
  • The box’s sequential number within the transfer

The box’s sequential number should represent both the box’s unique place within the transfer and the total number of boxes being transferred. For example, a transfer of 5 boxes should be labeled as shown:

  • Box 1 of 5
  • Box 2 of 5
  • Box 3 of 5
  • Box 4 of 5
  • Box 5 of 5

Labeling Example: if two boxes are transferred from the Department of Medicine, and the first box contains job files dating from 1994 to 1995 and the second box contains correspondence and photographs dating from 1983 to 1996, these boxes will be labelled:

Department of MedicinePhotographs1983-1989Box 1 of 2

Properly labeled box. Using pencil is ideal, but if only pen or marker is available that is also acceptable.

Step 5.

Prepare an inventory for each box using an Excel spreadsheet. To download an Excel template for the Accession Level Inventory, click here.

If possible, this inventory should include the box numbers, date ranges, and a list of the contents of each box. This list may include folder titles, binder names, publications, bound volumes, grant files, artifacts, plaques, framed photographs, medical uniforms, etc.

Example of an inventory created with Excel. This example shows how to document more than one item in a box with material to be transferred to the Archives. This inventory includes file folder titles, as well as other types of materials. See Example 1 worksheet in the Accession Level Inventory Template for more information.

In some cases, boxes might contain a large number of materials of a single type, such as newsletters or photographs. In these cases, the list only needs to include a brief description of these materials and the date range.

Example of an inventory created with Excel. This example shows how to document material to be transferred to the Archives at the box level. See Example 2 worksheet in the Accession Level Inventory Template for more information.

Do not create a separate spreadsheet for each box being transferred; the list for all the boxes in a transfer should be included on a single spreadsheet.

For more examples of a completed inventory, see the attached

Example 1 worksheet for Folder or Item Level description

Example 2 worksheet for Box Level description on the downloadable Excel template.

The list will be used in retrieving records as needed in the future. Please email a copy of this list to the DUMCA at dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu for Archives staff to review prior to the date of transfer. The office or department should also retain a copy of this list for reference.

Questions about how to complete an inventory? If there are any questions about how to complete an inventory for materials being transferred to the DUMCA contact us by calling 919-383-2653 or emailing dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

Step 6.

Contact the DUMCA at 919-383-2653 or dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu to coordinate pick up, delivery, or the use of a vendor who can provide delivery services.

Please provide any additional information that could impact the transfer process including scheduling concerns, upcoming events, restricted entrances, stairs, elevators, heavy or oddly shaped materials, and so on.

Archives staff can pick up a maximum of 12 archival records boxes per visit. Transfers larger than 12 boxes may require the help of an outside vendor and could take longer to arrange.