Transferring Permanent Records to the Archives


Smithsonian museums and units must follow these instructions when transferring permanent records to the Archives. The instructions apply both to units in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and to units outside of the area.

Step 1: Icon of magnifying glass

Step 1 

Consult the Smithsonian-wide or appropriate unit-specific (staff only) records disposition schedule. If the records are not covered by the schedule, follow the instructions for Appraising Records.

Step 2

Step 2

Request a supply of acid-free boxes. For units outside of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, mailing labels can be requested from the Archives liaison. Mailing boxes are not provided for units outside of the Washington, DC area. The Archives liaison may refer requests to transfer electronic records to the Digital Services Division.

Step 3: icon of file folder

Step 3

Place records, in order, in the Archives boxes. All records must be in labeled file folders. Be sure to remove materials from hanging folders, binders, envelopes, and comb bindings, and to remove binder clips from the records. For guidance on how to build the Archives box consult the video demonstration.

Step 4 - Icon of list

Step 4

Create a list of the folder titles in each box. Be sure that the list matches the order of the folders in the boxes.

Step 5: icon of letter going in envelope

Step 5

Email the list of folder titles to the Archives liaison and schedule a time to pick-up the records. If the records are being shipped, be sure to securely pack and tape close the boxes.

Step 6: Icon of moving cart with boxes

Step 6

The Archives liaison will come to pick up the records or will acknowledge that shipped records have been received.

Step 7: icon of thumbs-up

Final Step

The Archives will process, preserve, and make available the records. In most cases, a description and finding aid of the collection will be available on the Archives website. An acknowledgment memorandum will be sent to the transferring unit, which will include the accession number for the materials, terms governing access to the materials, and instructions on how to access the records.