Suffolk Archives branches will be closed on Tuesday 13 August. Please click here for more information

Donating records

In order to prepare collections for the move to The Hold in Spring 2020 all branches of Suffolk Record Office will stop accepting new archives and local studies material (accessions) between 1 May 2019 and 1 June 2020.

This will allow staff time to package our 7 miles of shelving safely and securely and get ready for the move.

The only exceptions will be,
(a) records defined as public records in the schedules to the Public Records Acts and
(b) records at immediate risk of permanent loss or destruction. In this case please email details to suffolk.archives@suffolk.gov.uk or ring Collections Manager Bridget Hanley on 01473 263909 to discuss a way forward.

We take records of public and local interest from a variety of sources, including:

  • schools
  • industrial or commercial firms
  • private families or individuals

As a first step, please see our Collecting Policy and where relevant, the Micro-Collecting Policy for the type of records you are planning to donate or deposit.  These will explain which types of material we are able to accept into Suffolk Record Office, and help you prepare for making your donation or deposit.  Donations are the preferred method by which the Suffolk Record Office takes in new material.

Donations, gifts and bequests – You can donate, gift or bequeath your records to the Suffolk Record Office. This will mean ownership of your records will transfer to Suffolk County Council. This is the best method of preserving records and making them available for consultation or research.  You will not be able to withdraw them in the future.

Deposit – If you make a deposit you retain ownership of your records and make them accessible by depositing them in the Record Office.

This is subject to the following conditions:

  • records should be deposited for at least 20 years
  • the Archivist has the right to return any document to the depositor

You can deposit items for less than 20 years in certain circumstances but this must be agreed with the Archivist and a charge may be made towards any storage, conservation or cataloguing work we have done on the collection. It is possible for you to convert a deposit to a donation, gift or bequest at any time.

Preparing to bring your records into the Suffolk Record Office

We request that you provide us with an electronic list of the items you are bringing in and recommend that you use the Listing form for donors or depositors to help you capture the information we need, most efficiently.  A copy of the form can also be obtained by emailing archives@suffolk.gov.uk.  Once you have made your list, and before you come in, please get in touch with our Archivists to notify them of your plans to donate or deposit.  They will then discuss with you a suitable date and time.  Please email archives@suffolk.gov.uk

We take in all material handed to us as gifts or donations, free of charge, although you might like to consider making a voluntary donation towards the many costs involved in packaging, conserving, cataloguing and maintaining the collection in the correct archival conditions.  If you are making a deposit for which you wish to retain ownership, please see the Depositor Services section of our current charges list for details of the charges which will apply.

If there is confidential or sensitive material amongst your records, please note that charges will also apply for the storage of closed records.  Please make sure to highlight in your list, any material which may be considered sensitive, or otherwise unsuitable for public viewing.

Ideally records for permanent preservation should be on good quality paper and written in or printed-out using good quality ink e.g. a laser printer rather than an inkjet.  Ball-point and felt tip pen inks fade and in damp conditions may spread or stain other pages.  It is best not to use glue or self-adhesive tape e.g. sellotape as these cause damage.

We ask that you donate or deposit your material, already removed from any frames and ring binders in which it may have been housed, and if your deposit is not to be a gift or donation, that you also provide the appropriate archival packaging needed to properly preserve the material.  You can purchase a packaging ‘starter kit’, for £17:50 per small box, or we can package the material on your behalf at the cost of £25 per small box or equivalent.

We request that you remove duplicate materials, rusting paperclips, rubber bands, ‘post it’ notes etc.  Documents should not be kept in plastic bags and volumes should not be covered with plastic covers as these can encourage the development of microclimates and mould growth.  Photographs are particularly susceptible to this type of damage.

We also ask that you let us know of any items that are in a damaged or fragile state.

When you bring in your donation or deposit, please also bring a paper copy of the list you have made and email an electronic copy to the branch archivist you have been in contact with.  We will ask you to fill out an Entry Form and will give you a copy of this on the day as an interim receipt.  A formal receipt will be sent out to you in due course.  It is important that you keep us informed of any changes in ownership, or of the owners’ contact details, so that we are able to get in touch if necessary regarding your deposit.

Withdrawal

You can withdraw your deposited records temporarily at any time. You must give a minimum of five working days notice and the records can only be kept for a maximum of three months.

You can withdraw records permanently by submitting a written request to the Archivist with a formal notice period of at least one calendar month, depending on the size of the collection.  As part of this request Suffolk County Council may:

  • arrange for a microfilm, photographic or digital copy of the records to be retained by the Council
  • require you to make a payment towards the cost of conserving the records while in our care

Ownership

It is your responsibility to notify us of a change in address or change in ownership of the records.  Where depositors or their agents have not kept us informed of any changes in ownership or address and letters have been returned or go unacknowledged, archives will be presumed to have been donated to Suffolk County Council after a lapse of seven years.

Terms of Donations, Bequests, Deposits and Transfers contains more information.