Services for Government Agencies - FAQ

1. Which records are sent to the Archives of Michigan?

Retention and Disposal Schedules list which records are authorized for transfer to the Archives of Michigan, and when they should be sent to the Archives of Michigan for permanent preservation. Records that are identified for transfer to the Archives on a schedule cannot be destroyed.

2. How do I send records to the Archives of Michigan?

Local Government: Fill out and submit the Direct Records Transmittal form (MH-85) and submit it to the Archives of Michigan. Contact information for the archives is on the form. Archives staff will review the form and contact the local government to arrange the transfer of the historical records.

State Government: Records that will be sent to the archives need to be entered into the Versatile database. Employees will need a Versatile user account. To request an account, please contact your department's Records Management Officer (RMO). See a list of Records Management Officers. Instructions for submitting boxes are in the Records Center Operations Manual and Versatile User Instructions.

3. What does the Archives of Michigan do with the records that it receives from agencies?

The Archives of Michigan permanently preserves records by protecting them in acid-free storage containers, in a secure, environmentally stable storage environment. All records are inventoried and cataloged so researchers can find the records they need efficiently.

4. Can my agency borrow the records we sent to the Archives of Michigan?

No. Because records in the Archives of Michigan are unique and historically valuable, they cannot leave our physical custody. Once the archives accepts records, it is responsible for assuring that they are not lost, reorganized or altered.

5. What kinds of records are preserved by the Archives of Michigan?

Examples of historical records at the Archives of Michigan include Michigan's first Constitution, original signed minutes of the Natural Resources Commission, maps from the Department of Transportation, Corporation Annual Reports filed with the Corporations Division, subject files from the Director of the Department of Corrections, Enrolled and Engrossed Acts from the Legislature, Case Files from the Michigan Supreme Court, and naturalization records from local governments.

6. How does the Archives of Michigan decide what it will preserve permanently?

The Archives of Michigan preserves records that document how Michigan's government operates (such as policies, minutes and reports), that protect the rights of Michigan's citizens (such as death certificates, election results and naturalization papers), and that document Michigan's society and societal events (such as photographs, maps, letters and diaries). Archivists appraise all public records to determine if they document one of these aspects of Michigan history and therefore have archival value.

7. How can I use records at the Archives of Michigan?

The Archives of Michigan reading room is open to the public Monday thru Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. (except state holidays). Archives staff are also available via phone, fax and e-mail Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

8. Are all records at the Archives of Michigan open to the public?

No. Some records are exempt from public disclosure according to the Freedom of Information Act and other laws. Examples include mental health records, educational records and some state police records. When the Archives of Michigan accepts custody of confidential records, it establishes access agreements with the office of creation to ensure that only authorized individuals have appropriate access to the records.

9. How have government agencies used records preserved by the Archives of Michigan?

  • Land records were used by the Department of Transportation to prove the State of Michigan owned land upon which a highway was about to be built.
  • The Department of Corrections studied reports written after the 1952 riot at Jackson prison before developing recommendations addressing the causes of the 1981 riot.
  • The Department of State has reviewed superseded policies and procedures before it developed new ones.

10. If my agency's Retention and Disposal Schedule says that I should transfer records to the Archives of Michigan, will the archives keep them permanently?

Yes. Like all other government agencies, the Archives of Michigan can only destroy records with the authorization of an approved Retention and Disposal Schedule.

11. Who can help me with these and similar questions?

Please contact the Archives of Michigan at 517-373-3559 or via e-mail at archives@michigan.gov and someone will assist you.

Updated 07/01/2014