Donate Your Records

While the records of extraordinary people or leaders can be thrilling to discover, it is the records of everyday life that can be the most valuable to historians and archivists seeking to understand the history of a community.

Ordinary citizens are at the heart of a community's culture, and their personal stories reflect and illuminate a society's values, personality and aspirations. To understand a community, you must first understand the individuals within it. Personal records shed light not only on individual experiences but also on the social, political, economic, religious and cultural life of the province of Alberta. The Provincial Archives of Alberta encourages the donation of records as a way of creating an enduring memory of ordinary life in our province.

What types of records are the Provincial Archives of Alberta looking for?

Personal records of individuals and families:

The Archives are interested not only in the records of public figures, but also in records that show what individuals and families did in their daily lives, including materials any individual has created, used or kept during their life. These records provide insight into the interests, occupations and life of an individual and reflect the values of the larger community.

Records of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • Letters and correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Home movies, films and videos
  • Sound recordings
  • Diaries, scrapbooks and journals
  • Sketchbooks

Corporate or organizational records:

The Provincial Archives are interested in records that document the core functions of business or organizations. They reflect the way organizations develop and grow - they document essential activities, decisions, legal obligations and responsibilities. Organization records of particular interest to the Archives include:

  • Policies and procedures
  • Meeting minutes
  • Legal agreements
  • Correspondence
  • Architectural plans
  • Records and assets
  • Maps and photographs

How do I donate my records?

  1. Contact an Archivist - The first step is to contact a Private Records Archivist who will guide you through the process of examining and gifting your personal materials. Archivists prefer you do not sort the records or disturb the original order. Also, please do not discard any records, even if you feel they are unimportant.
  2. Provide background information - The archivist will ask you for biographical information about the person, family or organization that created the materials. This includes information such as birth, marriage and death dates, places lived, business and personal interests, and community involvement that can provide valuable context. You may be asked, for example, to help identify and date photographs or letters.
  3. Examine the records - An archivist will examine your donation and determine which records are of value to the Archives based on a number of different criteria. If the Archives decides not to acquire the materials, the records can either be destroyed or returned to the donor, depending on the donor's preference.