A List of Archival Series

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Correspondence - Administrative | Executive Orders | Legal Opinions and Advice
Legislative Appropriation Requests | Meeting Agenda, Minutes, and Supporting Documentation
News or Press Releases | Organizational/Reorganization Records | Plans and Planning Records
Policies and Procedures Manuals | Publication Development Files | Reports and Studies (Non-Fiscal)
Reports - Biennial or Annual Agency (Non-Fiscal) | Speeches and Papers | Building Records

Indexes, Lists, Registers, and other Finding Aids

Other Filing Schemes
Files Arranged by Correspondent or Subject
Files Arranged by Case Number, etc. | Scientific and Technical Data
Socio-economic Micro-level Data

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Archival Values

Beyond the axiom that archival records are most frequently generated at the executive level in a state agency by those officers who deal with policy and procedure as opposed to those who are concerned with staff services, no generalizations about where to look for archival records can be made. Every agency delegates authority, records decisions, and reports activities in its own way. However, in order to make the search for archival records series a little more manageable, the Archives and Information Services Division has prepared generic descriptions of records it has most frequently found to be of archival value.

These descriptions apply only to currently created and well-managed records series. Old, forgotten records discovered during an inventory or general housekeeping activities may have unique values that can only be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

These descriptions also apply only to record copies and not to convenience or reference copies. Convenience or reference copies are not records and can be destroyed at the agency’s discretion. However, care must be taken to correctly identify convenience copies as opposed to record copies. It is quite possible for exactly the same record to exist in two or more places and be the record copy in each place. The test for record copy is if the document serves a different function in each of its sites. For instance, a letter received by the governor’s office may require responses from two different agencies; the copy the governor’s office sends to each agency is a record copy. When it is difficult to determine whether the files are record or nonrecord materials, treat them as records.

Records of the same type as those to be described in the following section but kept as record copies in other filing systems or other records series have the retention period of that filing system or records series. For instance, a draft of the narrative portion of the agency’s legislative appropriation request kept in the author’s personnel file as evidence for performance appraisal carries the retention period of the personnel file.

Archival Records Series

Correspondence - Administrative

Administrative correspondence can be incoming or outgoing and also includes internal correspondence in any format pertaining to the formulation, planning, implementation, interpretation, modification, or redefinition of the programs, services, or projects of an agency and the administrative regulations, policies, and procedures that govern them.

Administrative correspondence is contrasted with General correspondence in that it excludes routine matters, general inquiries, and requests for materials.

It is unlikely that administrative correspondence from organizational levels below that of the executive will be appraised as archival. However, if the agency's important programs are not documented in correspondence maintained at this level, similar records created at lower levels must be designated as archival.

Executive Orders

Executive orders include any document that initiates, rescinds, or amends a regulation, policy, or procedure that governs the programs, services, or projects of an agency.

Executive orders are contrasted with Directives that are routine issuances regarding general administrative and office procedures.

Legal Opinions and Advice

These files typically contain memorandums prepared by the agency's legal counsel or the Attorney General concerning interpretations of existing laws and regulations or the effects of proposed laws and regulations that govern the agency or which have a direct effect on its operations. Included are formal comments on pending legislation prepared at the request of the Legislature, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Budget Board, the Governor's Office or others.

Legislative Appropriation Requests

The archival requirement for this series of records is met by sending the required number of copies of the published appropriation request and all supporting documentation as submitted to the Legislative Budget Board to the Texas State Publications Depository Program of the Library and Archives Commission.

Meeting Agenda, Minutes, and Supporting Documentation

The record copy of official agenda and minutes of state boards, committees, commissions, etc. that are conducting open meetings as required by Texas Government Code, Chapter 551 are permanent records of the agency. Copies of the agenda and minutes are transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division to meet archival requirements. Meeting supporting documentation is not a permanent agency record series and should be transferred to the Archives after the 2-year agency retention period has passed.

Minutes may be literal transcriptions or edited summaries. Audio and video tapes are not archival media and cannot serve as the agency's or the Archives' copy.

Records selected for permanent retention to document interagency meetings will be limited to the records of the agency designated as the group's secretariat.

Minutes of staff meetings are not archival records.

News or Press Releases

News or press releases issued by the agency announcing high-level appointments, new programs or functions affecting many Texans, and program terminations are archival.

Records may be textual, such as a formal press release, or non-textual, such as film, video or sound recordings.

Organizational/Reorganizational Records

Records in this series include:

Organization charts are graphic illustrations that provide a detailed description of the arrangement and administrative structure of the functional units of an agency.

Reorganization studies are conducted to design an efficient organizational framework most suited to carrying out the agency's programs and include materials such as final recommendations, proposals, and staff evaluations.

Functional statements are formally prepared descriptions of the responsibilities assigned to the senior executive officers of an agency at the division level and above.

Files may also contain administrative maps that show regional boundaries and headquarters of decentralized agencies or that show the geographic extent or limits of an agency's programs and projects.

Plans and Planning Records

Plans and planning records relate to the process of planning new or redefined programs, services or projects of an agency. Planning records can be found in many record series. Their archival appraisal generally follows the series they are filed in. Planning records in an independent series on a high administrative level relating to the administration of agency programs are archival.

Policies and Procedures Manuals

Manuals, guidelines, administrative rules, or similar records distributed internally for the use of employees or externally to the public or those individuals or entities regulated by an agency that set out the significant rules, policies, and procedures that govern an agency's major programs, services, or projects are archival.

Procedure manuals or statements regarding the internal operations of common functions -- e.g., grievance procedures, printing requests, travel guidelines -- and similar support services, are not archival.

Publication Development Files

Successive and substantive drafts of major publications may be archival. Major is defined by both the publication's authorship and its impact on Texas and Texans.

Original artwork including photo prints and negatives that have significant value as evidence of agency programs as well as the potential for re-use may be archival.

Reports and Studies (Non-Fiscal)

This record series may include annual, sub-annual, or special reports or studies on non-fiscal aspects of an agency's programs, services, or projects compiled by agency personnel, by advisory committees, or by consultants under contract with an agency that are not included in or directly related to another records series.The series includes reports distributed either internally or to other entities. Reports are archival when they deal with significant aspects of the agency's programs.

Complete sets of studies prepared by oversight agencies are usually designated as the record copy at the oversight agency.

Reports - Biennial or Annual Agency (Non-Fiscal)

This series encompasses biennial or annual reports to the governor and legislature as required by an agency's enabling statutes. Archival responsibility is fulfilled when the required number of copies of these documents are sent to the Texas State Publications Depository Program, Texas Library and Archives Commission.

Speeches and Papers

This series includes notes or text of speeches, papers, or reports delivered in conjunction with agency work. Records in this series are archival when they are remarks made at formal ceremonies and during interviews by heads of agencies or their senior assistants concerning the programs of their agencies. The speeches may be presented to executives from other state agencies, representatives of federal and local governments, or private groups, such as college and university students, business associations, and cultural organizations. Interviews may be granted to radio, television, or printed news media commentators.

The format may be original notes or text on paper, audio or video tape, or motion picture film.

Building Records

Building records include planning, design, and construction records; accepted and rejected bids; correspondence; plans and specifications including architectural and engineering drawings, profiles, and blueprints; contracts, surety bonds, and inspection records for major state buildings.

Indexes, Lists, Registers, and other Finding Aids that provide access to archival records must be transferred with the records they index.

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Other Filing Schemes

An agency may not necessarily maintain its records in series as they have been described up to this point. Important factors to keep in mind when filing records and in describing series for records inventory and records schedule are

the administrative level of the records,

the amount of evidence of agency functions they provide, and

the quality of the information they contain.

In files arranged by correspondent or subject, look for:

substantive correspondence with other state agencies, members of the legislature and its committees, the governor's office, the governor, private organizations and individuals;

records concerning all substantive and distinctive programs of the agency including internal agency memorandums, narrative and statistical reports, budget estimates and justifications, and others;

records documenting the evolution of major policies and procedures created at the following levels: commissioners; directors; assistant directors; and administrators, chairs, and directors of administrations, divisions, and services within an agency.

Files arranged by case number, person, project, hearing date, etc., may include correspondence, memorandums, periodic narrative reports, and similar materials which relate to a specific action, event, person, place, project, or other subject and provide complete documentation of an agency's activities from initiation to conclusion. Although most case files are disposable at some future date, some portion of a case file series may be selected for transfer to the Archives and Information Services Division. Those chosen normally fall under one or more of the following categories. The case:

1. Established a precedent and therefore resulted in a major policy or procedural change;

2. was involved in extensive litigation;

3. received widespread attention from the news media;

4. was widely recognized for its uniqueness by established authorities outside the government;

5. was reviewed at length in the agency's annual/biennial report; or

6. was selected to document agency procedures rather than to capture information relating to the subject of the individual file.

Categories (1) through (5) establish the exceptional nature of a particular case file while category (6) relates to routine files chosen because they exemplify the policies and procedures of the creating agency.

Scientific and technical data resulting from observations of natural events or phenomena or from controlled laboratory or field experiments may be archival. The data are generally created at project or operating levels rather than at administrative levels. The data may be recorded in either human-readable or machine-readable format and be found in laboratory notebooks, completed forms, tabulations and computations, graphs, microforms, or machine-readable files.

Scientific and technical data are selected for permanent preservation if they are unique, usable, and important. Consider:

if these data are accurate, comprehensive, and complete, if they can and are likely to be applied to a wide variety of research problems, and if they are usable;

if data that can be recreated because they document repeatable activities, they may also be considered both unique and usable if they constitute a definitive, critical, or standard reference data set.

The cost of data collection is one, but not the only, measure of its importance. In assessing the importance of any set of data, consideration is given to its historical as well as scientific significance.

Socio-economic micro-level data are collected for input into periodic and one-time studies and statistical reports including information filed to comply with government regulations. The information may cover such subjects as economic and tax information, health care, demographic trends, education, discrimination, and other comparable social science areas. Although agency reports and studies, briefing materials, and official releases frequently summarize these data, the micro-level information, usually in machine-readable form, can be archival.

Indexes, Lists, Registers, and other Finding Aids that provide access to archival records must be transferred with the records they index.

Page last modified: August 30, 2023