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Preserve & Donate Records

The Labor Archives of Washington (LAW) is dedicated to serving the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest by preserving its historical records and offering guidance on managing active records. We conduct regular workshops on historical records preservation and records management for labor unions. To schedule training, please contact Labor Archives Head Conor Casey.

For many labor organizations, maintaining effective records management is vital. It not only helps in locating key documents dating back to the founding charter but also ensures the retrieval of vital records when needed. A robust records management strategy can empower unions in their core activities, such as organizing new members, bargaining with employers, and safeguarding members’ rights on the job.


Preserving Union Records


  • Presentation Slideshow: Explore“Don’t Mourn, Organize! Creative Approaches to Preserving Historical Labor Records” by Robin Walker and Conor Casey.
  • How to Keep Union Records (Download PDF): A practical guide for union officers and staff on labor records management by Debra Bernhart. Courtesy of the George Meany Memorial Archives.
  • A Commonsense Guide to Union Records Management (Download PDF): A quick guide to records management for union officers and staff by Eugene D. Vrana and Rae C. Shiraki. Courtesy of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), with special thanks to ILWU Librarian/Archivist Robin Walker.
  • How to Clean Out a Union Office Without Destroying History (Download PDF): This 3-page publication by Helmut Knies, Collection Development Archivist at the Wisconsin Historical Society, offers a step-by-step guide on setting up a records management system for local unions, preserving historical archives, and decluttering unnecessary materials.
  • Don’t Throw It Away! Documenting and Preserving Organizational History (Download PDF): A practical how-to guide for organizations of all sizes on preserving their records.
  • What Records Should I Keep? (Download PDF): This handout outlines the typical formats of labor records, specifying which records of enduring value should be retained or donated to the Labor Archives of Washington.
  • What Will Processing Archival Records Cost? (Download Document): Many unions collaborate with the Labor Archives to help fund part or all of the processing of their archival collections. This handout provides insights into the costs associated with processing records, allowing donors to estimate the expenses involved in processing their collection.

    Donating Records to the Labor Archives

    When considering what to retain or donate to the Labor Archives of Washington, please refer to the following guidelines:

    Definitely Retain


  • Agendas
  • Agreements
  • Annual reports
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Artwork
  • By-laws
  • Buttons
  • Charters
  • Committee files
  • Conference/Convention programs
  • Contracts (Drafts, Final, Printed in Booklet Form)
  • Correspondence
  • Directories/Rosters/Yearbooks
  • Documents pertaining to legislative activity or lobbying
  • Flyers
  • Grievances
  • Meeting minutes
  • Memoranda of Understanding
  • Newsletters
  • Interviews
  • Issues files reflecting your organization’s work
  • Job descriptions of major staff
  • Officer’s files (Identify name of officer and position)
  • Organizational flow charts
  • Photographic materials – photos, movies, negatives, albums, etc. [Please identify individuals in photos and events pictured if possible]
  • Picket Signs
  • Policies
  • Political action files (Committee on Political Action or other committee)
  • Programs from conferences or other events
  • Reports (annual, financial, committee, etc.)
  • Posters
  • Programs from events
  • Resolutions
  • Scrapbooks
  • Speeches (audio and transcript)
  • Testimony



  • Publications ranging from books produced by the organization to brochures
  • Research files on particular actions, negotiations, campaigns, or targets
  • Maps

    Additionally, we can’t accept the following:


  • Cancelled checks
  • Financial transaction records
  • Job applications
  • Personnel files
  • Planning files for events
  • Financial files
  • Tax returns

    For any queries or further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.