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MIT SORT - Student Organization Records Toolkit: How to SORT?

The MIT Student Organization Records Toolkit, or MITSORT, is designed to assist student organizations in developing their recordkeeping practices to preserve their group’s history.

Storing Your Records

  • Assign a “historian” or “secretary” role to maintain records - this position actively works to maintain, acquire, and describe your organization's records and event material.

  • Keep materials in a centralized place, whether in a group online space or in a closet.

  • Maintain a clean storage area so that no dust or critters make their way to your records.

  • Keep materials in a dry, cool place. Moisture, excessive heat, and light can damage paper and audiovisual records.

  • Avoid encrypting files that you send along to the Archives because we won't be able to make them available.  Check files periodically to ensure they can be decrypted.  Consider using a group LastPass if you need security on your files. 

  • Ideally, store the records on steel shelving or cabinets rather than wood, which emits a gas that, over time, can be harmful to your documents.

  • If your organization lacks a storage space or office, we encourage you to consider donating the records to the Institute Archives as an alternative to passing down the records from member to member to keep personally each year.

Storing Electronic Records

Electronic records, like email, photographs, etc., have become a large component of organizations’ files. Much like their paper counterparts, though, there are steps you can take to preserve these records and make them accessible to future members.

  • DO store your electronic files in multiple places. For example, if you are utilizing cloud storage to maintain your organization's records you should also store the same records on a hard drive, CD, DVD or other portable media. However, portable media are relatively unstable and become obsolete rather quickly (remember floppy disks?) and so an external hard drive, which is relatively inexpensive, can offer a more stable storage solution.
  • DO decide what formats you would like to store your records in and be consistent. For text files .txt is ideal, but if you need to maintain formatting within a text document then save the file as a PDF. For large images, like digital photos, .tiff is the best format; however, many graphics are created as .jpg and can be maintained in that format.
  • DO organize your electronic files just as you would your paper records. That means like items, such as meeting minutes, should be kept in their own folder and clearly labeled. Create a standardized way of naming your organization's files so that members can quickly locate and identify the records they are looking for.
  • DO submit your website URL to Internet Archive for capture via their Save Page feature found here

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  • DO NOT store electronic records in your Institute email. After you leave MIT, it may become harder to keep and find these attachments and messages leading to missing history of your Organization.  Exporting an email folder to a PDF bundle is one way to pass along messages in your personal email account for future members to access.