Giving to the Archives

Trent University Archives and Special Collections has developed its collections through the generosity of many donors, including individuals, institutions and associations. We welcome inquiries regarding potential donations of archival material, rare books, and financial contributions.   

Acquisition decisions are made at the discretion of the University Archivist, following the Archives Policy and Special Collections Guidelines. If you’d like to speak to someone about donating to the archives, email us at 

Donations of books for the Library's general collection will not be considered by Archives staff. Please see the Library's donation guidelines for more information.

Our archival collections are enriched by the generosity of people and organizations that donate their records to our collections. Generally, the Archives acquires material that documents Trent University and the culture and history of the region. New archival acquisitions are considered by the University Archivist, in light of our mandate, the Archives Policy, and other factors, including the condition of the material or the Archives' capacity to store and care for the collection.

Donors can request a tax receipt for their donations, which requires a monetary appraisal to be conducted. Please consult our our Monetary Appraisal Guidelines

Donation Process

  1. Contact the Archives to inquire whether the material is of interest. Please explain the content and context of the material, as well as the formats, date range, and approximate quantity. If there is a reason why you think we are the best home for the material, please explain its relationship to our mandate.
  2. If the Archives is interested in acquiring the material, you will be sent a gift agreement form to complete. This form states that you are assigning legal ownership and, usually, other intellectual property rights (where you own them) to Trent University Archives. It will also ask whether
    1. You would like your donation to be anonymous
    2. You would like to place any restrictions on access or reproductions of the material
    3. You would like any items not deemed of archival value returned to you
    4. You would like an appraisal for tax receipt for the donation
  3. Physical/digital transfer of the records will be arranged. Wherever possible, donated materials should be organized and include a list of contents. Before rearranging material, please consult with the Archivist to ensure the archival integrity of the collection remains intact.
  4. The donation will be processed (re-housed, arranged, and described), and the finding aid will be added to the Archives Database. The Archives receives many collections each year, and your donation will be added to the processing queue. This step may take up to a year to complete.
  5. The final finding aid will be shared with you, and if a tax receipt is requested, the appraisal will be completed. An appraisal can only be completed once processing is complete.
  6. Materials not retained will be returned to you, passed to a more suitable repository, or shredded after consultation with you.

Guidelines for Faculty Members

Faculty papers are rich archival resources. They help document the university's administration, research, and teaching, as well as the broader lives and community engagement of faculty members. We welcome conversations about potential donations with faculty from all disciplines. 

Faculty records, including research and teaching material, are considered private records and are not subject to FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act). If your papers include official university records (such as those created as an administrator), they will be treated as University Records.

When sorting and selecting papers to be forwarded to the Archives, keep in mind the sorts of questions that researchers, historians, social scientists, and biographers might ask in the years ahead if they access your papers. They may want to know about your life, the approach which you took to your own research, the ways in which your life and career reflected the functioning of a scholar in a university at a specific time and place, and your location as an individual within a variety of communities.

The most important sources of information will reflect you personally and your relationships to family, friends, colleagues, the university environment, and the larger worlds in which your research interests are located. This includes

  • day books, diaries, and journals
  • personal and professional correspondence
  • project and research files
  • materials relating to professional and scholarly associations, grants, publishing, and conferences
  • materials documenting your program/course development and teaching practice 
  • early drafts of a published work (but not galley proofs or multiple drafts)
  • committee files
  • photographs and other media.

We cannot accept, and will either return, shred, recycle or otherwise dispose of the following:

  • material which arrives unannounced and unsolicited; materials are acquired by the archives only after appraisal and prior arrangement
  • published material, including reports, government documents, offprints, and photocopied articles, that are available in libraries.
  • photocopied research files, documents, or materials of any kind which came from another archival institution
  • book collections. Please see the library's donation guidelines if you are interested in donating your library to Trent.
  • multiple copies of any documents
  • personal records of students such as grade sheets, advisee files;
  • personal records of colleagues such as c.v.s of job candidates, or letters of recommendation

Before organizing your materials for donation, please get in touch with the University Archivist to discuss your donation.

Potential donations to Special Collections will be considered by the University Archivist, under the terms outlined in the Special Collections Guidelines. Due to space restrictions, additions to Special Collections are carefully considered. Unsolicited donations left in the Library and Archives will not be accepted.

Donors can request a tax receipt for their donations, which requires a monetary appraisal to be conducted. Please consult our Monetary Appraisal Guidelines.

The Trent University Archives acquires and preserves University records with enduring value in all formats, as outlined in the Archives Policy. This includes both paper and digital records. These records provide evidence of the policies, administration, and history of Trent University’s academic and administrative units. Currently, records are received through voluntary transfer from departments and units, and not as part of a formalized records management program. 


Before sending records to the Trent University Archives, please consult with the University Archivist, by emailing The University Archivist is available to do site visits, meet with staff, and discuss what kinds of records the Archives would like to acquire. 

Identifying Records with Historical Value 

The goal is to preserve records that allow us to understand the history of the unit; to understand why, when, and how decisions were made; and to provide context to the history of the University. This may require preserving not only important academic and administrative records, but also materials that contain information about people, events, conferences, and social events. A wide variety of information should be included in the university’s records and archival collection in order to show the full life of your unit. Remember, that records do not need to be ‘old’ in order to have historical value. Consider what someone in the future might want to know and understand, whether to write a history of the unit, celebrate an anniversary, understand the rationale for a policy, or to support the ongoing operations of your unit. 

In particular, the Archives is interested in acquiring the following records, regardless of format or file type: 

  • Administrative records of University officials, faculty, departments, institutes, schools, centres of research, services, employee and student unions and associations, and other offices and positions of comparable significance 
  • Agendas and minutes of meetings, and attached correspondence, reports, exhibits and appendices of Senate, Board of Governors, College Councils, all Committees, Departments, and other governing bodies 
  • Correspondence of senior administrators 
  • Policies, procedures, reports, and publications (drafts of major reports are encouraged as well) 
  • Project and event files 
  • Photos, videos, and posters of significant University and unit events, including convocation ceremonies and public lecture series 
  • Photographs and building plans of University properties and activities 
  • Original University endowment agreements 

Note: The Archives does not acquire personnel records or student records, which are held by the Human Resource Department and Registrar’s Office, respectively. 

How to Transfer Records 

  • Whenever possible, ensure material is organized. In order to preserve their evidential value, records are best kept in original order, and/or organized by the function/activity to which the records relate. 
  • Remove duplicate copies of material and publications in the files. 
  • Please send a file list with the material. Contact us for a template or guidance. 
  • If photographs are included, please label and, if possible, date them. This improves their usefulness. 

Access and Restrictions 

Records transferred to the Archives can still be accessed by staff from that unit, with permission of the unit head. Transferring your records to the Archives does not mean that they will be made openly available to researchers. Researchers must request permission from the University Archivist and the appropriate administrative unit in order to access University records, which still fall under FIPPA, even after they have been transferred to the Archives. 

Monetary donations to Trent University Archives are most welcome, and can be used to support collections processing, archival supplies, digitization, and special projects and initiatives. Please contact the Trent University External Relations and Advancement Office for details.