Records Transfer FAQs

The Duke University Medical Center Archives (DUMCA) collects and preserves departmental and administrative permanent records (except for patient records) on an annual basis. Transferring unit records to the DUMCA ensures that its contributions to the Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) are remembered. A Departmental Records Liaison should consult our Records Retention Guidelines for more information about different DUMC record types, including how long these records remain active and are retained after becoming inactive, and how and when to either dispose of these records or transfer them to the custody of DUMCA. The DUMCA also accepts donations of personal papers. If you are interested in donating your personal papers, check out our Donor FAQs to learn more.

We collect records that document the operations of Duke Health and its schools, programs, and partners, as well as records that document significant contributions to medical science, care, research, and education. These records can be in either physical/analog or electronic formats. Types of records that align with these criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Papers of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellors, and Deans’ offices
  • Records from administrative and academic offices
  • Faculty meeting minutes
  • Personal papers of faculty and staff
  • Medical Center publications
  • Films, recordings, tapes, and photographs
  • Course syllabi and other curriculum records
  • Student organization records
  • Records related to medical research

The DUMCA does not accept patient records, short-term or active records, Non-DUMC publications, duplicates of records held by the DUMCA, most financial documents, personnel records, graded student work, drafts when a final version is available, and junk mail/spam. For further description of the kinds of materials departments may transfer, see the DUMCA’s Archival Records Guidelines and the Records Retention Guidelines. We would also be happy to consult with you about your records. You can reach us by phone at 919-383-2653 or by email at

Who is in charge of your office’s records may vary and should be determined at an office or department level. 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. If you are you’re the designated Departmental Records Liaison, we encourage you to consult the DUMCA’s Archival Records FAQs and Records Transfer Instructions, and/or consult with the Medical Center Archivist by phone at 919-383-2653 or by email at

  1. Identify records for transfer. You will want to check out the Archival Records FAQs and/or consult with the Medical Center Archivist by calling 919-383-2653 or sending an email to
  2. Prepare records for transfer. If you do not already have archival boxes from the DUMCA, you need to order them from the DUMCA. Once you have the correct boxes, pack and label the materials for transfer. We have in depth Records Transfer Instructions that will help you with this process. The DUMCA staff is available for consult and/or box ordering by calling 919-383-2653 or sending an email to
  3. Complete an inventory of all records to be transferred. You should prepare an inventory for each box using an excel spreadsheet. We provide an Excel template to help you with the inventory.
  4. Physically or electronically transfer materials to the archives. Contact the DUMCA at 919-383-2653 or to coordinate a physical pick up, digital transfer, or the use of a vendor who can provide delivery services.

Unfortunately, no. The DUMCA only has space for inactive records. You can determine when your records are considered inactive by consulting the DUMCA Records Retention Guidelines, or contacting the Medical Center Archivist at 919-383-2653 or

The DUMCA Records Retention Guidelines provide recommendations for the disposition of records and information used in the administration and management of the DUMC offices and departments. These guidelines apply to all types of records, physical/analog or electronic, kept in DUMC offices. These guidelines are meant to help you take care of your records and know what to transfer to the DUMCA. See our records retention guidelines for more information.

The DUMCA accepts donations regardless of format. It is ideal to collect the format that is considered the original or the final copy for distribution of a document. For example, if the document is born-digital--such as an email newsletter, a word processor file, or a digital photograph--we want the digital version. However, if a paper document or photograph has been scanned, or a newsletter was composed on a computer but printed for use, we prefer the analog and/or paper version. While the DUMCA accepts most digital materials, each case is accessed on an individual basis. Early consultation with the Medical Center Archivist, who can be reached at 919-383-2653 or, is strongly encouraged for all such materials.

Once your records arrive at DUMCA, the Medical Center Archivist will formally accession the records into our repository. An accession record will include transfer documentation and disclosure of any known sensitivities or applicable restrictions. You will receive documentation upon completion of the accession. Records then enter into the queue for processing, which entails the arrangement and description of the archival materials. Processing also includes appraisal of the records. During processing, any duplicate materials or materials that do not fall within the DUMCA’s collecting scope are removed and returned. If needed, the records may be rehoused for better storage. Digital files will similarly be appraised before they are processed and, if possible, ingested into the DUMCA’s digital content management system to be made available digitally in our Reading Room.

The final step in archival processing includes the preparation of a finding aid. The finding aid provides a historical and/or biographical overview of the creator of the records and a description of the records summarizing the content, dates, and organizational structure of the collection. A container list is prepared enumerating folder titles within each box. The finding aid will be published on the DUMCA’s website and the records, barring any restrictions, are then available for research.

Yes. You would have two options for accessing your department’s records. You will be able to see the records at the Medical Center Archives reading room, located at 1408-A Christian Avenue, on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We can also loan records back to you or your department. For more information about either of these options, contact the Medical Center Archivist at 919-383-2653 or

The DUMCA provides safe and secure storage of permanently valuable records in a climate controlled environment. Materials will be stored in archival containers and, when necessary, may undergo preservation treatments to prevent degradation. Only staff members and other authorized individuals have access to our storage facilities, which are outfitted with locks and security cameras. The staff at the DUMCA will do everything in their power to prevent damage or theft of your materials in order to records for posterity.