Records Advice for Retiring Staff

The Harvard University Archives (HUA) is aware of the important contribution of your work to the life of the University.  Given that most HUA staff are working remotely and that Harvard Depository service hours are limited, what follows is a streamlined set of recommendations for addressing retiring staff's University records. For additional information, see our general guidance PDF. For guidance on what to do with your electronic files, HUIT has a checklist for retiring staff.

Retain active records within your business unit

Some of your records may need to be kept by your office to refer to after you leave for legal/regulatory reasons or administrative precedent. Locate and communicate to your manager a secure location for your paper records in your office. All electronic files needed by the department should be moved to sharepoint, see HUIT's guidance for more information.


Identify records with long term institutional values

A very small percentage of records from most offices need to be kept permanently. Most records will be deleted upon your departure, including your email. Therefore, to identify those records that have legal, regulatory, institional, or historic value, check the General Records Schedule (GRS) as a first step.


Destroy and/or delete records that are no longer required to be kept for business reasons

If you have records that do not need to be maintained for business purposes and do not have institutional significance, you can shred or delete those records. To identify these records, you can consult the GRS. Most email accounts will be deleted according to HUIT policy.

Order boxes for office or offsite storage of permanent records 

  • HUA can help with ordering empty boxes for delivery to your office. Place your order from no later than Wednesday morning for box delivery on Friday. The last day before winter break to order boxes to store your records on campus is Wednesday, December 16, 2020. These boxes will be delivered on Friday, December 18.
  • Use the GRS to help describe the records in each box. At minimum, the summary should include a brief description of the contents, including (as close as possible) begin-year and end-year dates of the records and GRS records codes. If time permits, creation of a box/folder list by your staff is optimal and will assist your colleagues needing access to records in the future. You can record your description either free-form or we can send you forms to use by contacting us at Leave a copy of the descriptions with the boxes and also please send a copy to us at
  • HUA may be able to make arrangements with your office to send boxes to offsite storage at the Harvard Depository (HD). Under current limitations on depositing new materials at HD, we will be able to schedule pick-up of boxes from some offices before the end of December and will be in contact with the remaining offices in 2021.

Specific Advice for Retiring Deans and Senior Leaders

Many of the records of deans and senior leaders, including all business email, need to be kept by the University. Due to the nature of senior positions, most administrators' records contain significant policy and decision-making documentation, some of which may need to be handed over to colleagues for business continuity.  Examples of records could include:

executive correspondence, including email and calendars
committee and standing committee records
Visiting Committee reports and Board of Governors correspondence
planning and proposal records concerning university-wide, faculty-wide, or inter-faculty initiatives
• records concerning policies and procedures with University-wide or faculty-wide application
program annual reports and program establishment, management, and review records
accreditation records

For further guidance, please see the University's Executive and Management Records Schedule and our guidance for senior leaders PDF.

HUA recommends that you or your staff email to set up a virtual appointment with us to answer questions and advise you through this process.


HUA is offering weekly virtual office hours to provide records advice for retiring staff.

Sign up here to attend one of these sessions.