Digital preservation policy


The following statement is taken from the Churchill Archives Centre Preservation and Conservation Policy.

This establishes the framework in which the Digital Preservation Policy must operate:

4. Policy Principles, general

Preservation is a fundamental responsibility through which the Archives Centre ensures the continued availability and authenticity of the archival records that it holds in trust for present and future generations. The Archives Centre recognises that preservation is a pervasive function and works to ensure that it remains an integral part of all archive activities from acquisition through to access.

Without preservation there can be no access.

5. Policy Principles, digital

Different preservation paradigms apply to digital records, where a distinction must be made between the intellectual content of the record and its digital/technical format. Long-term access to a particular digital/technical format cannot be guaranteed due to its unavoidable dependence on specific technologies which will become obsolete over time. The Archives Centre’s policy on preserving digital records is therefore predicated on preserving the means of access to the underlying intellectual content and its associated evidential value. The preservation policy encompasses two levels of preservation: passive preservation, which provides for the secure storage and integrity of digital records and active preservation, which may require the migration of records to new digital/technical formats over time.


The Churchill Archives Centre exists to preserve the personal papers of prominent individuals in modern British political, public or scientific life. It collects material from the mid nineteenth century to the present day and is still collecting. The Centre also provides the records management function for Churchill College.

The Centre has already created digital preservation and access copies of certain whole collections, and of series and individual documents within other paper-based collections. In particular, the personal papers of Sir Winston Churchill, Baroness (Margaret) Thatcher, Dr Rosalind Franklin and Vasili Mitrokhin have already been largely digitised.

The Centre has also accessioned small amounts of born digital material as part of other paper based collections. These include word processed files, computer programme files, spreadsheets, emails, image files and digital audio and visual files usually deposited on portable storage media such as optical discs, floppy disks and memory sticks, but sometimes transferred to the Archives Centre digitally, for example via email. The current policy is to keep the original physical or digital format. The College Records Manager is currently introducing procedures for naming, storing and retaining all college electronic records. These will include procedures for accessioning them into the College archive, though at present we do not have the structures in place to do more than store them on the college’s securely backed up vault servers.


The policy aims to establish consistent principles for the management of all material held in digital formats, whether high quality digital preservation copies of material in other analogue media, or born digital materials.

The policy aims to incorporate requirements and standards for: digital creation; digital storage and preservation; digital management, appraisal and cataloguing, and access.

Policy Aims

Digital archival material must be preserved in perpetuity. The Churchill Archives Centre undertakes to preserve and provide access to future generations of researchers. The Churchill Archives Centre needs a digital repository to preserve and provide access to digital materials.

There must be established procedures for the secure and safe transfer of digital archival material from existing college systems, personal computers and portable storage media. Digital archival material must be stored securely, so that master copies cannot be accidentally or maliciously altered or deleted, or confidential/personal material accessed by unauthorised persons.

The Churchill Archives Centre must be able to guarantee and maintain the authenticity and integrity of the digital archival material from time of accession.

Digital archival material must remain accessible. The material must be accessible to Archives Centre staff for appraisal and cataloguing, and thereafter to future generations of researchers, subject to any restrictions on access (eg: arising from exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act or the Data Protection Act). Digital archival material must not become corrupted or unusable as a result of procedures or systems applied by the Churchill Archives Centre.

Full intellectual control of the digital archival material must be established and maintained through proper and consistent recording of creation, ownership, format, provenance, metadata, and copyright.

The Churchill Archives Centre must ensure that the digital archival material can be managed in accordance with: (a) any legal undertakings given to the depositors; (b) existing copyright legislation; (c) Data Protection legislation; (d) Freedom of information legislation; (e) Cabinet Office or Government sensitivity reviews of official information in personal records of public figures.

Policy Requirements


There must be a dedicated budget to fund digital preservation activities.


Staff must be trained in digital preservation procedures, and in the use of any relevant hardware and software.

Digital Accessions Policy

There must be a statement indicating what type of digital material and what formats the Churchill Archives Centre can take. This should be read in conjunction with the Churchill Archives Centre’s Collecting Policy.

Digital Asset Register

The Centre must be aware of what quantities of digital archival media it holds, in which collections, and in what formats. Ideally there should be some attempt to assess the vulnerability and research value of digital archival materials.

Digital Repository

There must be a secure repository or appropriate systems for holding and processing and making available digital archival material. This must be capable of expanding to meet future Archives Centre needs.

Digital Archiving Procedures and Standards

There must be clear procedures governing ingest, storage, processing of and access to digital archival materials. These will be developed in line with emerging standards and best practices for digital preservation.

Roles and Responsibilities

The implementation of the digital preservation policy within the Churchill Archives Centre is the responsibility of the Senior Management Team of the Churchill Archives Centre under the leadership of the Director, who in turn reports to the Archives Committee and to the Governing Body of College. The day to day management of digital archival material will be devolved to the professional staff of the Archives Centre, who will be expected to follow agreed procedures following appropriate training.

The College Bursar has overall responsibility for College compliance with Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation, and the College Records Manager has delegated responsibility for the management through retention schedules of non current College electronic records.

The College IT department currently play an essential role in ensuring the backup of the college’s systems, including the vault servers. In the future it must also play a role in advising on technical solutions for requirements, in helping to integrate solutions with the college’s IT systems, and in supporting the required hardware and software.


The policy will be approved by the Archives Executive Committee and then communicated to all Archives staff. It will be used to inform discussions with potential depositors of digital archival material.


The policy will be audited as part of the National Archives accreditation review.

The Churchill Archives Centre might invite external audit of procedures from appropriate experts in the Cambridge University Libraries or other specialist repositories.


The policy will be reviewed annually by the Senior Management Team of the Archives Centre and any changes brought to the Archives Executive Committee.

Reviewed by: Sarah Lewery 
Date: 25 September 2019
Approved by Senior Management Team for October 2019 Archives Committee meeting
Date of next review: Oct 2020