Thursday, November 01, 2007


On October 30, 2007 in honor of its 25th Anniversary, TCART (Twin Cities Archival Roundtable-a group of archivists, records managers, librarians, manuscript curators, and historians from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota) held a symposium on pressing issues for people working in archives.

The first session was on Legal, Privacy and Proprietary Issues in Archives.

Charles Rodgers from the Minnesota State Archives spoke to us on Managing State Institutional Records at the Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota had many state hospital facilities now called regional treatment centers) most of which have closed, are closing or downsizing now. The type of records the State Archives tries to save for these institutions are those that show how the organization was governed and run and gives insight into patient and employee life. They don’t usually collect case files. Restrictions to records vary by type and agency, but generally those with private data are closed for 50 years from date of last entry. Mr. Rodgers spoke about the reasons for restrictions, means of maintaining physical and intellectual control of records, and how people may request access. (I have a handout from this presentation.)

David Klaassen of the U of M’s Social Welfare History Archives
spoke on the confidentiality of Social Service Records. Access to these archives is not directly controlled by legislation, but staff works to make others aware of privacy laws and bases its policies on the professional code of ethics such as being sensitive when individual names are mentioned in documents. Their collection contains some adoption records and these have restrictions on them if they are fewer than 50 years old and 50-100 years old.

Tony Jahn of the Target Corporation
spoke of the management of proprietary records and service in a corporate setting. Mr. Jahn also talked of the differences between corporate and public archives and access to corporate archives internally and externally. He advised that people seeking for information from a corporate archive should always try to ask for permission, remembering that it helps to show how giving access would benefit the corporation, but to know that there may be reasons why the corporation may not be able to give access.


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