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  • The care and keeping of unit records

    We've been going through stored boxes for the pack and the troop. Any references or thoughts on how long we need to hold onto records? We have advancement records going back at 15 years, stacks of old applications, re-charter documents, etc. If there is a resource from BSA on this, I've missed it and would appreciate the information.

  • #2
    good question.....In our file cabinets we have charters and rosters going back....Probably to the start of the troop 40 years ago.....We have a binder for each each year....membership attendance, calendar and rank advancement. Oddly I don't recall seeing any financial documents

    I view it as history of the troop....when I discovered it, I shared with with my son who was along at the time....Honestly he could have cared less...I guess just the adults are sentimental.....

    Beyond any BSA rules or sentimental value.....I would shred the documents as the boys aged out of scouting......I would keep the financial records permanently.

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    • #3
      Yeah, I'd go with 7 or 8 years for advancement records. The youngest scouts would have aged out by that point. When I did a short history of our troop I tried to captured the Chartering Organizations, CC, SMs, and Eagles for each year. Beyond that, not so much.

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      • #4
        Easy ... I'd get rid of the advancement when the scout ages out. Dealing with years and years of that now.

        Careful ... Finances, we go with seven years, but we are mostly electronic.

        Realy difficult ... The rest is just sentimental. Organizational memory. How much do you keep? Personally, I like to keep some rosters with contacts. Some history of what the troop did and where we went. But beyond that, we THROW IT AWAY. Otherwise, it just becomes a paperwork headache for the next guy to throw away.

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        • #5
          our prior scoutmaster 2 years ago went thru the file cabinet and tossed everything.
          so I'd probably say a be a bit more sentimental than that!


          The BSA applications at the bottom say to keep on file for 3 years. Not sure if that is to the unit or to the council office. or if that is 3 years from joining or 3 years from leaving the unit.... overall we keep the applications as long as the scout or scouter is a member and then usually for a couple years after that just in case they come back. Sometimes a scout needs to access the date on his application if council records conflict with say the date he received his first rank advancement, everyone likes all those dates to fall in line when they stick them in the eagle spreadsheet.

          advancement we file in the cabinet. when the cabinet gets full, we get rid of the oldest year of stuff. everything else is archived somewhere --scoutnet, troopmaster etc.


          financial records for the troop I'm not sure. For the pack all records since I joined in 2005 are in a file box under my desk. since I'm IH I figured I'd better know where those are just in case.


          In the troop we have a lady with our city historical society that keeps a scrapbook of all the eagle projects since the troop is almost 90 years old. Various scrapbooks and historian things are in the sm office at the scout hut. until the next sm decides to toss it all.

          In the pack I have photos and copies of some documents since I started in 05. I keep printing and making a scrapbook with den help, then someone takes it home and never seems to bring it back. arrggghhh!

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          • #6
            I'm with Basementdweller on this. Make sure your own records are secure and complete. Don't depend on anyone else. And destroy them when they're no longer needed. Old photos, awards, newspaper clippings, etc...I'd keep those.

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            • #7
              Yep, be careful when tossing that you do not lose the history of the unit. Our unit is over 91 years old, and we have huge gaps in its history due to some overly zealous cleaning. Ironically, I do have complete membership listings; but that is due to finding the originals in the attic of the council office. Our gap is in the middle, as the son of one of the founders kept a lot of material from the early years and we have it all in the scrapbooks and binders. Advancement records, once the scout is gone, really have little significance unless someone is tracing something; and theoretically, that info would be in a council file or now on Scout net. Unless there is something significant related to a unit purchase, most financial records should follow general recommendations for these type of documents, I believe that is seven years.

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              • #8
                Make it a project for the Troop Historian to digitize all of the records - maybe allow some service hours for volunteers to assist. Either create a database (Computers MB requirement 6h or 7a?) and do data entry or just scan the original docs and save them as JPEGs on a flash drive (all of the records) or CD-ROM (by year). Be sure to put some sort of descriptive file name as to what the image is. (e.g. '2013 Summer Camp attendees.jpg' instead of 'DSC45001.JPG'). Then you can get rid of the hardcopy.

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                • skeptic
                  skeptic commented
                  Editing a comment
                  A good suggestion for sure. But, believe it or not, there are a lot of people that still like to browse through old scrapbooks and hard copy material. If you are a real historian, primary sources are still what you want. The LBC does not accept anything but originals for their collection if at all possible. Granted, sometimes that is not feasible, and certainly, computer copies and backups are great; just do not be too quick to simply get rid of those primary sources.

              • #9
                Point taken, skeptic.

                As an amateur genealogist, I understand the need for primary sources. I don't know how many people would be interested in seeing the hardcopy of some old advancement records 100 years from now (though I would like to see my father’s, but I don’t know which troop he was in). The docs themselves would have to be stored much more carefully than they are likely to be now, and by then would have to be handled carefully (cotton gloves, etc.). That’s why I suggested simply scanning the docs and saving the images. A high-quality scan of the original is the next best thing. There are efforts underway now to scan rare documents in order to make them more available to the general public. (There was a documentary on PBS a few years back about one such project in Italy.)
                Last edited by EagleJCS; 07-07-2013, 10:53 AM.

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                • #10
                  I wish we had a troop historian! Oh to be a larger troop! Alas, we struggle on.

                  We've retained advancement records and general troop history and shredded years of applications and medical forms.All the ribbons are now on the troop flag pole and lots of miscellaneous patches and things are donated. I asked the church treasurer about our financial records, thinking that really it is a CO issue, and he also suggested the standard 7 years. We are a little light on records a few years back, but the current treasurer is doing a great job.

                  Thanks for the advice!

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