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Personal Digital Archiving

Information about how to create and care for digital files so that they can remain accessible in the long term.

What about physical materials?

If you have paper or other physical materials you'd like to preserve, the best actions you can take to protect them are to keep them insulated from significant fluctuations in temperature and humidity, and to keep them from getting wet. Generally it is better to store your materials in colder rather than warmer temperatures, but the highest priority should be to avoid major changes in temperature. Fliers and other paper that may have any kind of sticky substance should be kept in folders, or interleaved with plain paper. To go the next step, you may want to look for acid-free folders to store paper documents, or plastic sleeves for photographs and film.

Prepare Your Files for the Archives

If you have materials you would like to donate to the New School Archives (or another archival repository), these basic steps are applicable to both digital and analog files.

1. Decide what to keep. It may not be what you think! Some of the most useful material in archives documents the process of work, such as writers' draft manuscripts.

2. Label and organize. Some of the most useful information for archivists can be dates (creation dates or other significant dates) and names (of people depicted in photos or other works, creators, and contributors). Consider how filenames and folder structure contribute to the understanding of file relationships and context.

3. Protect your materials. This may mean backing up digital files, and making sure you don't exclusively rely on cloud storage (such as Google Drive). For physical materials, this may mean storing them in a safe place where they are protected from getting wet and from fluctuations in temperature and humidity. See the box on the left for more details about protecting physical materials.

4. Contact the Archives. To successfully plan for digital transfers to the archives, please contact us:

Rights and Permissions

If you'd like to share your materials with archives (or anywhere else), it's very helpful to consider what kind of permissions you'd like to allow, and then to clearly communicate those permissions.

You may want to consider assigning your work a Creative Commons license. There are a number of different types of licenses offered. For example, you may choose to make your work freely available for reuse and adaptations, as well as educational or artistic use, but not allow it to be sold by others for commercial purposes. Learn more about how to choose a Creative Commons license here.

For works created with the help of others, be sure to get input from other collaborators when making decisions about licensing and permission. Also get written agreements from those portrayed in any recordings you may make, particularly interviews or recordings of public events.

As a guide, you may want to consider the language of the agreement used here in the New School Archives and Special Collections:


The New School Archives and Special Collections (NSASC), an administrative unit of the University Libraries, is part of The New School and is a repository and research facility whose primary mission is to acquire, preserve, display, and make available for research historical materials in the area of art and design.

NSASC is conducting an oral history interview in which you (the “Participant”) have agreed to participate as an interviewee or interviewer (the “Interview”). The purpose of this agreement is to allow The New School and NSASC to use the Interview in its exhibits, presentations, and written or electronic publications; and to make this Interview available to scholars, teachers, students, media and other members of the interested public for use and publication.

This agreement does not restrict the Participant’s own use of this Interview in any way.

The Participant grants to The New School a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free right to use the Interview, in whole or in part, in any written or electronic materials, or other media or formats now existing or hereafter devised, and to copy, distribute and publish the Interview. The Participant authorizes The New School to create a transcript, abstract and index for this Interview, and to create and distribute derivative works.


Participant name: (Please print) ____________________________________________________

Participan­t signature: ___________________________________________________________

Date:     _________________________________

Address:  _______________________________________________________________________

Phone:  ________________________________________________________________________

Email:    ________________________________________________________________________

Interviewer          __________________________________________________________________

Location of interview: _____________________________________________________________

Interviewer name: (Please print)_____________________________________________________

Signature of Interviewer:                ____________________________________________________________

Date:     _________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________________________

Phone:  ___________________________________________________________________________

Email:    ___________________________________________________________________________

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