The State Archives Answers FAQs for Legislators
Legislative records management manual
What does the Archives want?
When does the Archives want our records?
What's the difference between the State Archives and the State Records Center?
Can records be returned to my legislative office from the State Archives?
May I place my records in an alternate depository?
How do we get our records to you?
What legislative records are already held by the State Archives?
Contacting the State Archives
Legislative Working Files | List of Regional Historical Resource Depositories
Texas Government Code Chapter 306 | Texas Government Code Chapter 323, Section 017
Packing Instructions for Transfer of Archival Records | Box Assembly Instructions
Information Required when Transferring Records | Preparing Records for Storage at State Records Center
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has developed a comprehensive manual to assist legislative offices in managing their records and planning for eventual transfer of their archival records to the State Archives. Begin with the End in Mind: A Records Management and Archives Manual for Texas Legislators explains the full process of creating and maintaining records efficiently to best serve your constituency and support the legislative functions of your office. The manual addresses all of the details involved in transferring archival legislative records, including considerations for information that may be confidential. The information presented below is a brief selection of what the manual covers.
Under Texas Government Code § 441.006 the Texas State Library and Archives Commission must identify, take custody of, preserve, and make available for public use state records and other historical resources that document the history and culture of Texas. The staff of the State Archives has determined that many of the records produced by the Texas Legislature, particularly the records of individual legislators, committees, and the administrative arms, provide uniquely valuable insight into and documentation of the role and development of Texas law and government. According to law, therefore, when you leave office the records created by you and your staff during your term of service must be transferred to the Commission. Campaign files of legislators are considered personal records and should not be transferred to the State Archives. Legislative working files provides a summary of the types of materials that must be sent to the State Archives.
Members and staff should consult the Records Retention Schedule for their respective houses and talk with their Records Management Officers. For the House, email the Records Management Officer James Freeman or call 512-463-0865. For the Senate, email the Records Management Officer Nanci Longoria or call 512-463-0100.
The records of State Representatives and State Senators should be formally transferred to the State Archives in accordance with the records retention schedules of their respective houses, specifically at the end of the term of office. Official committee records may be transferred when they are of no further administrative use to the Committee.
Once your records are transferred to the legal custody of the Texas State Archives they become the property and the responsibility of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. They cannot be transferred back to you. Generally, records transferred to the State Archives are meant to be kept forever, however, it is possible that a reappraisal or reevaluation of the long-term value of the records will lead to their destruction. That decision is the prerogative of the State Archivist. The State Archives receives and fulfills Public Information Act requests on records in its custody. The records cannot be transferred back. The records may be consulted during regular business hours by you and/or your staff depending on your election under Government Code Chapter 306 and Chapter 323. See the Confidential records section for more information. Photocopying services are available.
Records held temporarily at the State Records Center remain your property and your responsibility. Records are in storage for a fixed length of time. At the end of that time the records are destroyed (with the approval of the House or Senate Records Management Officer) or transferred to the State Archives. Records in storage at the State Records Center that are responsive to Public Information Act requests are the responsibility of the House or the Senate. Records in storage may be removed or temporarily called back.
No. Once your records are transferred to the legal custody of the Texas State Archives they become the property and the responsibility of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The records cannot be transferred back to their creator. You or your staff may consult the records during regular business hours depending on your election under Government Code Chapter 306 and Chapter 323. See the Confidential records section for more information. Photocopying services are available.
Your records may be placed in one of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's designated Regional Historical Resource Depositories, provided that the institution has an archivist on staff and possesses adequate and acceptable storage space for the records. To select a depository and to obtain approval for the transfer, please email the Assistant Director for Archives or call 512-463-5500. Please see our list of depositories.
Keep in mind that when records are transferred to a Regional Historical Resource Depository they are in the legal custody of the Texas State Archives and they become the property and the responsibility of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The records cannot be transferred back to their creator.
As a part of the transfer of records, the Library and Archives Commission, in accordance with Texas Government Code Chapter 306 and Chapter 323, needs a letter or formal statement from you indicating the extent to which you wish to allow public access to your communications with citizens/residents of this state and with the Texas Legislative Council. Government Code Chapter 306 governs public access to certain official state records of legislators, both in their individual capacities and as members of legislative committees, task forces, joint committees, and other legislative bodies. In accordance with the provisions of this statute, communications of citizens/residents of this state to legislators, created or maintained on or after June 12, 1985, are confidential unless disclosed/released by the legislator. Communications affected by this law include all forms of constituent correspondence, including letters, e-mail, telephone message slips, etc., on any and all subjects. Government Code Chapter 323, Section 017 governs public access to communications between a member of the legislature or the lieutenant governor and the Texas Legislative Council.
You should be aware that providing public access under Chapter 306 and Chapter 323 does not waive the mandatory exceptions of the Texas Public Information Act. Legislative records must, and will, continue to be reviewed to enforce access restrictions. Such restrictions prevent the release, for example, of medical records, the identities of social service benefit recipients, juvenile offender information, or information covered by common-law privacy.
Accordingly, when you begin to transfer your official state records to the State Archives or one of its Regional Depositories, the Commission will send you a form (or you can print the form from the link below) to allow you to designate the degree of access you wish to allow the public. The form will provide you with three options, you may: 1) immediately open your communications; (which we strongly recommend); 2) close your communications until a specific day and year; or 3) permanently close your communications to the public. If the Commission does not receive a completed copy of this form, or other written statement of your wishes in regard to Texas Government Code Chapter 306 and Chapter 323 before you leave office, the Commission must, by default, permanently close your communications. House form. Senate form.
For records in your offices:
If the archival records total 50 cubic feet or less (about 25 file drawers), pack the records into records storage boxes. (Records storage boxes are available from TIBH Industries -- http://www.tibh.org. The boxes are called "Fiberboard Case Storage Box. Archive Box." You can do a Product Search for the Commodity Code 615-37-13085). Keep the records in order and leave them in their folders. Prepare an inventory that summarizes what each box contains and, if possible, lists the folders contained in each box. Read Packing Instructions for Transfer of Archival Records and Box Assembly Instructions. Also refer to Transfer and Packing Information Helpful Tips and Reminders that are specific to legislative records. Email the Legislative Records Specialist or call 512-463-5506 to arrange for the records' acceptance at the State Archives.
For records totaling over 50 cubic feet, the records are transferred to the legal custody of the State Archives, but held at the State Records Center. You will need to provide us with the same detailed information regarding the records to be transferred that you would provide to the State Records Center for temporary storage of records. Additionally, prepare an inventory that summarizes what each box contains and, if possible, lists the folders contained in each box. Please read Information Required when Transferring Records. Also read Preparing Records for Storage at State Records Center. Email the Legislative Records Specialist or call 512-463-5506 to arrange for the transfer.
For records at the State Records Center:
Staff of the State Records Center will notify the House or the Senate Records Management Officer when the records have fulfilled their storage retention and are eligible for final disposition. Once disposition is approved and the records are archival, they will be transferred to the State Archives.
Descriptions of many, but not all the holdings of the State Archives can be found on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission web site. For more detailed information email the Archives reference staff or call 512-463-5455.
Legislative Records Specialist
Assistant Director for Archives