Records Management Services

Records are one of the University's most valuable assets. Records support decision-making, demonstrate compliance, document the history of the University, and perhaps most importantly, enable us to do our jobs. Just like other University assets, records need to be properly managed in order to maximize their value and minimize their cost. By implementing good records management practices, your office can

  • Control costs associated with records and information management
  • Improve efficiency and access to information
  • Meet compliance obligations
  • Minimize the legal risks posed by inadequate records management practices
  • Ensure that permanent and historical records are captured and maintained

Records Management Services (RMS) is committed to assisting all University offices and departments to control costs, improve efficiency, meet compliance obligations through high-quality records management practices, and ensure that permanent records are transferred. We provide guidance and resources for all stages in the records and information lifecycle, from creating records through destruction of non-permanent records or transfer of permanent records to other staff at the Harvard University Archives.

Creating and Identifying Records

Records include all forms of recorded information, regardless of physical characteristics or format that are created, received, recorded, or legally filed in the course of University business. Records serve as evidence of the University’s organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, and other activities. Records also document University programs, serving as resources for future historical research. While records are easily recognizable in paper formats, most records are now created electronically, including e-mail, word-processing files, spreadsheets, databases, web pages, videos and a variety of other electronic formats.

Retaining Records

Harvard University has approved policies on retaining and disposing of records to enable offices to make informed decisions about their records. These policies, called Records Retention Schedules, are designed to ensure that University records are retained for as long as they are needed for administrative, legal, fiscal, or research purposes, and that they are properly disposed of once their value to the office and to the University has passed. Common types of records held by offices and departments across the University are described in Harvard’s General Records Schedule (GRS), which can be accessed at


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Managing and Organizing Records

All University offices are responsible for the proper care and management of its records. Managing and organizing your records makes it easier for you to find the information and records when you need them, and is an essential part of practicing good records management.




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Storing Records

Offsite records storage is a good option for records that you need to keep but don’t regularly use.  Records Management Services administers the University’s offsite records storage program at the Records Center at the Harvard Depository. Records stored at the Records Center remain in the custody of your office, and only authorized users have access to them. Records can be retrieved in 1 business day.




For more information about records storage and instructions for all Records Center transactions, please see

Transferring Records to the Archives

The Harvard University Archives has records of the University going back to its founding, including records from over 700 University offices. University records document the history of all aspects of the University and its mission. Every University office likely has some records that should be transferred to the University Archives for permanent preservation and future use. Records Management Services can help you identify your office’s archival records and assist in transferring them to the University Archives.



For more information on transferring records to the University Archives, please see

Destroying Records

Most types of records can be destroyed when they have fulfilled their retention requirements as explained in the General Records Schedule.  However, records must not be destroyed if they pertain to any investigation, legal action or proceeding, litigation, audit, or program review in progress or if you know that one is about to be held, even if the records are past their required retention period.  Records that have the retention plan of “contact Archives” and “transfer to Archives” also should not be destroyed. 



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