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Donating Your Materials to the Carnegie Mellon University Archives

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you handle sensitive or confidential material?

If your donation contains sensitive or confidential material, archivists will work closely with you to determine a restriction period appropriate for the circumstances. Once determined, those materials will be sealed until the restriction expires.


Will I have access to the materials? What about my family and friends?

Yes, the University Archives provides open public access to all collections in our care, unless they are restricted by the donor. We recommend making an appointment as many of our collections are stored off-site and may require several days to be delivered to campus.

Is my donation tax-deductible?

Donors are encouraged to contact their tax advisor with questions regarding appraisals and tax deductions. Archivists cannot appraise the monetary value of material donations.


What do you do with the materials when you receive them?

Archivists will process the materials according to archival standards and best practices. We will catalog, preserve, and describe them to enable access for current and future generations. At the end of this process, we will produce a finding aid or content guide for the materials.

Depending on the size of the collection, this process can take place over an extended length of time. Visit our website to see examples of our current finding aids:


Will you weed or remove materials from my donation? What do you do with those items?

Archivists may determine that certain items should be removed from the collection during the preservation and cataloging process. Possible examples include excessive duplicates, personal items without historical value, and financial items such as checks and receipts. In those instances, archivists work closely with donors to determine disposition. In most cases, the items are returned to the donors or securely shredded.


Do you preserve everything? What types of material do you keep?

The University Archives preserves materials of lasting historical value. Archivists preserve these records because of the “enduring administrative, legal, fiscal or evidential information they contain.” These materials provide a record of human history.


Do you accept digital records? What about media?

Yes! We accept materials regardless of format. Set up a consultation with an archivist in the University Archives to learn more about donating and transferring digital material.