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Archives Home >UWM Records Management: Guidelines, Laws, and Policies > Guideline #10
Guideline #10: E-Mail Management
E-mail is the electronic record created in the greatest quantity and used by the most people, but it is also one of the hardest formats to deal with from a records management perspective. This page will attempt to provide some guidance for dealing with e-mail issues.
UW-System General Records Schedules for Business Communications
In August 2008, the Public Records Board passed a records schedule for business communications, providing retention and disposition guidance applying across all University of Wisconsin campuses. The schedule covers all forms of communications, including voice mail, text messages, instant message logs, and e-mail. If a form of communication is already part of a scheduled record series, it derives its retention period from that schedule. The full text of the schedule may be viewed here. Following is a summary of the two categories covered by the general record schedule, with retention periods.
Business Communication: Transitory
Transitory Communications are messages with no business value after the information contained in the message has been conveyed or superseded, or the event to which the message is related has occurred. Examples include scheduling e-mail, courtesy copies, superseded drafts of a project, and routine information requests (e.g., "What hours are you open?"). Retention: Destroy after 7 days.
Business Communication: Routine
Routine Communications comprise the normal communication that occurs when university employees, and sometimes their colleagues who are not university employees, work together to transact public business on behalf of the University of Wisconsin System. Examples include routine decision-making e-mail, sent copies of reports for review and comment, detailed information requests requiring research, and correspondence between students and professors. Retention: Destroy after 6 months.
The vast majority of e-mail sent and received by most users falls into one of the categories with temporary retention, above. However, a very small amount of e-mail is historically significant and should be preserved for eventual transfer to the Archives. Historically-significant e-mail generally sets or interprets policy, formalizes business processes, documents decision-making, or provides evidence of the activities of an office or department. The Archives can help you identify these types of e-mail. When in doubt, hold onto it!
E-mail Management and Filing
As with other electronic records, you should pick a file structure that suits the needs of your office and consistently use that structure. There are, however, some considerations that may help you with managing your e-mail as records.
Storing and Transferring E-mail to the Archives
The three types of storage for e-mail are referred to as On-Line, Near-Line, and Off-Line.
To export an e-mail folder from PantherLink, follow these steps:
Using this method will create a "tarball" zip file with all of that folder's messages included as *.eml files inside. The UWM Archives will accept transfers for e-mail stored in this manner, using the procedures described on the electronic records page.
Questions about anything on this site? Email the Records Officer or call Records Management at (414)-229-6979.