Policies & Forms

The Archives and Special Collections serves as the institutional memory of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and curates the university's collection of manuscripts, rare books, art, and objects.  Our staff is committed to the preservation of the historical and cultural resources produced by WPI faculty, students, and staff while also providing support for primary source education and research.  We also partner with campus units to enrich events with WPI history, curate exhibits, and foster community engagement.  Our policies are designed to help Archives staff balance the needs of donors, researchers, collections, staff time and resources

Collection Development Policy

University Archives

As keeper of institutional memory for WPI, Archives & Special Collections identifies, collects, and manages university records.

The purpose of collecting such records is to provide documentation of the development and growth of the university, particularly of its primary functions of teaching and research, its role in the community at large, the activities of its student body and alumni, and the development of its physical plant and grounds. Priority is given to those records that reflect the activities of university officers and committees which formulate or approve university or division-wide policy as well as faculty and administrative involvement in these activities.  ASC staff refers to these types of files as records of enduring value and considers them to be critical to the continuing operations of WPI.

Records take many forms, they may be physical or digital, and can be created by anyone with an association to WPI. While the nature of different formats may require different methods of transfer and long-term care, the value of a given record is based on the information and evidence it provides, not on its format. When arranging a record transfer, University Archives staff will indicate how records of varying formats should be transferred. These records may have access or use restrictions that need to be managed and maintained over time.

Archives & Special Collection is committed to identifying and preserving the most important, at-risk, and permanent records of WPI. ASC staff can assist with assessing legal, administrative, and historical record retention requirements, as well as arrange for the transfer of records to the Archives. Final decisions on accepted material are made by the University Librarian or their designee and are made with multiple elements considered.  


The department’s manuscript collection focuses on several areas including nineteenth and early twentieth century manufacturing and industry, scientific exploration and discovery, regional history and culture, and video game development. 

Other important collection development areas include the personal papers of WPI faculty members documenting their professional careers and the university’s curriculum, and the personal papers of WPI alumni documenting their careers and contributions to science, technology, and other fields. 

Charles Dickens

WPI Archives & Special Collections houses an extensive collection of material related to the life and world of English novelist Charles Dickens.  Rare and first editions of serial novels, artwork, correspondence, audio visual adaptions, and artifacts may be found in manuscript collections donated to WPI.  ASC staff, with the advisement of WPI faculty, continue to supplement these gifts with additional manuscript material, contextual scholarship, as well as new editions and adaptations of Dickens’ work in a variety of formats.

Art & Objects

WPI Archives & Special Collections collects, exhibits, preserves, and documents items and materials that are part of the larger WPI Art Collection. The collection includes art and objects created by members of the WPI community as well as paintings, sketches, sculptures, and other items that support the cultural heritage of the WPI community. ASC staff work in collaboration with the WPI Campus Art Committee to approve the acquisition and display of art and objects at WPI.

WPI Archives and Special Collections adheres to the Society of American Archivists Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics. We strive to make research materials available to users on equal terms of access in accordance with the professional policies on access adopted by the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association.

University Records Transfer

Guidelines for Transferring Records to the Archives

The ability to retrieve records deposited in the Archives is dependent on the information offices provide. Care must be taken to properly prepare records and complete the appropriate forms when the records are transferred. Archivists are available to answer any questions and offer assistance.

Contact us: Monday-Friday, 9-4.


phone: 508-831-6112

To simplify future retrieval of records, prepare paper records according to the guidelines listed below:

  • Transfer official record copies only. Weed out documents that originated from another office and are therefore copies.
  • One cubic-foot sized boxes called “records center boxes” must be used to store records. These boxes can be obtained from the Institute Archives, (x8340). For records that will not fit into these 12″x10″x15″ boxes, alternative storage methods may be arranged with the Archives.
  • Remove records from hanging folders and binders that are taller than 10 inches (must fit upright in the record center boxes). Place records in labeled file folders.
  • Remove rubber bands and binder clips from records.
  • Pack folders upright in the records center boxes. Letter size (8.5 x 11in.) materials can be stored in one direction, legal size (8.5 x 14 in.) materials in the other.
  • Keep records in the order in which they normally are filed in your office. Do not attempt to revise the alphabetical, numerical, chronological, or other order of your records.
  • Fill each box to capacity but do not overfill.
  • Number each box consecutively on one end of the box rather than on the top.
  • Start a new numerical series with each shipment sent to the Archives.

Records Transmittal and Inventory Sheets:

Records Transmittal and Inventory Sheets account for items deposited in the Archives. This form is available on the Archives web site (see link below). The completed form can be saved as a Word file and sent as an email attachment to archives@wpi.edu. The form should be filled out by the person in the office who prepares the records for transfer. You must keep a completed Records Transmittal and Inventory Sheets in your office. Records Transmittal Form

Records Transmittal and Inventory Sheets should be completed in the following manner:

  • Name of transmitting office
  • Address of transmitting office
  • Name, campus address, email address, and office phone number of person preparing shipment
  • Box number and folder title

Copy the Records Transmittal and Inventory Sheet for your files. Place the original sheets in Box 1 of the shipment. Do not tape sheets to the top of boxes.


The office depositing records in the Institute Archives must arrange for transportation of packed records to the Archives

Accession Numbers:

Upon receipt of records, the Institute Archives will assign each shipment an accession number. The office depositing records will be notified of the accession number and any inventory revisions. This accession number must be used by the office in all communications with the Archives.

Digital Records

  • Maintain original folder and file structure
  • Weed duplicates, drafts and copies that originated from other offices
  • Arrange a transfer method with Archivist
Rules Governing the Use of Materials



  • NO COATS OR BAGS are allowed in the Reading Room.


  • PLEASE MUTE CELL PHONES and do not use them for calling.


  • Photographs of collection materials are for personal research use only.
  • Camera flash must be turned off and sound muted.
  • A light ring is available upon request.


  • NO FOOD OR BEVERAGES are permitted in the Reading Room.
  • NO PENS are permitted. Pencils are available for your use.
  • Please maintain the order of materials in folders and boxes. Notify staff if materials are misfiled or damaged.


  • The use of records may be restricted by statute, by the office of origin or by donors.
  • Archives & Special Collections reserves the right to restrict the use of records.


  • Collection material must be handled with care.
  • Weights for keeping material flat and book cradles for fragile bound volumes are available for your use.


  • A separate Permission to Publish form must be submitted.


  • A separate Digital Reproduction Request form must be submitted.
  • WPI reserves the right refuse a reproduction order if it would involve violation of copyright law, donor agreement, or cause harm to the physical material.


  • Recommended Citation: [item], [Name of Collection], [Collection number], Archives & Special Collections, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA.
Loans & Exhibits


Archives & Special Collections can provide temporary, curated exhibits of archival or special collections materials to enrich important events on campus. Please contact ASC staff as early as possible to enable adequate time to identify appropriate items, assess their condition and prepare them for display.


Items from archival and special collections may be available for exhibit loan or long-term installation (i.e. artwork in campus offices and meeting spaces). Loans and installations are prepared at the discretion of the ASC staff, may incur preparation or installation fees, and are made only to faculty, staff, and Student Activities-sponsored organizations.

Archives & Special Collections is unable to loan materials to student project groups or individual students. For students wishing to use collection materials in a class presentation or project, ASC staff may be able to coordinate display of original items within the library, as well as provide digital representations for use in presentations. 


WPI Archives and Special Collections uses innovative solutions and acknowledged best practices to digitize material to support academic endeavors, enrich the cultural heritage of WPI, and utilize technology to increase access to our rich resources.  ASC staff in conjunction with members of the WPI community will select digitized material for inclusion in various digital repository resources, most notably, Digital WPI.


  • Ongoing digitization:  ASC staff will continue to digitize archival and manuscript material to further enrich the digital resources offered by WPI.  Digitization decisions are made in conjunction with library staff, faculty, and other members of the WPI community.  Final decisions for digitization projects are determined by ASC staff with consideration for technical feasibility, staff availability, and potential impact on supporting WPI’s primary academic mission.
  • On-demand digitization:  Requests for digitized material submitted via a “Digital Reproduction Request” form are fulfilled with consideration given to copyright status, intended use of material, and preservation needs in addition to all other relevant policies.  Fees for these services are determined by ASC staff.  Any vendor costs necessitated by an on-demand digitization request may be subject to pre-payment.


ASC staff can accommodate most common digitized file request formats including:

  • Images:  TIFF, JPEG, PDF
  • Audio:  WAV, MP3
  • Video:  MOV, MPEG4

Items intended for inclusion in our digital repositories will be maintained in a digital preservation format based on accepted industry standards.

Copyright Status of Materials

WPI Archives & Special Collections material disseminated via Digital WPI and other digital repositories are made available under Title 17 of the United States Code.  Users are responsible for determining any intellectual property restrictions for further use.  Most of the materials are either in the public domain or the copyright is maintained by WPI.  In special instances, copyright holders have granted WPI special permission to make their work available.  All material includes a rights statement indicating any known copyright data.


The ASC staff strives to make our digital repository resources accessible and we welcome input from the public. Consideration is given to:

  • Web design that seeks to comply with the American with Disabilities Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines established by the Web Accessibility Initiative
  • Use of common standards and formats for material and metadata allowing accessibility through freely available tools or software when appropriate
  • Preservation of digital objects and associated metadata