Deaccession Policy


The process by which an archives, museum, or library permanently removes accessioned materials from its holdings1.

When Deaccessioning Occurs

A deaccession can consist an entire accession, or a portion thereof. Any archival materials deaccessioned on the initiation of the RAC must undergo reappraisal in accordance with the RAC’s Reappraisal Policy. A donor/depositor organization or individual may also request the deaccession of materials from the RAC holdings. 

Disposition Options for Deaccessioned Records

  • Return to Donor or Depositor: During the deaccession process a Donor/Depositor will be contacted.  If the Donor/Depositor would like the material returned, the Collections Management Team will coordinate the return of the material once the deaccessioning process is complete. 
  • Transfer: If a Donor/Depositor no longer wants to retain the material, the RAC may consider transferring the materials to an appropriate archival collecting institution. Prior to any transfer, the material must be deaccessioned from the RAC’s holdings, and all proper transfer agreements must be in place between the RAC and the receiving institutions.
  • Disposal: If a Donor/Depositor requests the destruction of the material, it can be shredded under the Rockefeller Archive Center’s direction in accordance with the RAC’s established destruction procedures. Alternatively, the RAC can coordinate with the Donor/Depositor for a shredding service to supervise the work under the direction of the Donor/Dispositor.
  • Sale of Deaccessioned Material: In exceptionally rare circumstances, deaccessioned materials may also be considered for sale. Any decision to offer deaccessioned materials for sale must have the concurrence of the original donor if the provenance of the material is known and the donor exists, or, in the absence of a known and extant donor, the approval of the RAC’s Board of Trustees. Approved sales of collection materials must be for fair market value, cannot be made to a “disqualified person” as defined by the IRS Code, and must be in keeping with museum and archival ethics requirements that sale proceeds only be used to acquire new collection materials or to provide for the direct care of collections.

Deaccessioning Documentation

For the Rockefeller Archive Center, deaccessioning is one of the major activities that must be reported to the State of New York. It is critical that any deaccessioning activities be thoroughly documented. Documentation should include: 

  • For any deaccession resulting from a reappraisal in accordance with the RAC Reappraisal Policy, all reappraisal paperwork must be submitted to the Director of Archives for review and to the President of the RAC for final approval before any deaccession and disposal actions are taken. 

  • A deaccession form (one per accession) should be completed once all archival materials to be deaccessioned have been located and the Donor/Depositor has confirmed the manner of disposition.  

  • There may be instances where no original accessioning documentation or information can be connected to the archival materials. In such cases, a Permanent Removal Form should be completed and approved by the Assistant Director, Head of Processing and the Director of Archives to document the removal of the materials from the RAC’s holdings 

  • All Deaccession Forms and Permanent Removal Forms must be approved and signed by the President of the Archive Center and sent to the Donor/Depositor for countersignature. 

  • No disposal actions should take place until all related documentation is fully signed and approved by the RAC and by the Donor/Depositor. 

  • Once the deaccessioning and disposal of the archival materials is complete, all related documentation, including Deaccessioning and Permanent Removal Forms, Reappraisal Forms, correspondence with Donor/Depositor, destruction certificates, transfer documentation, and return receipts, should be added to the relevant collection file and the necessary deaccession information should be added to the RAC’s collection management system. 

  • The Assistant Director, Head of Collections Management, should retain a temporary copy of each Deaccession Form (but not Permanent Removal Forms) so that these copies can be provided to the Executive Assistant to the RAC President each year for submission to the State of New York.