Title 49: Department of Records and Information Services

Chapter 1: Disposal of Records By City Agencies

§ 1-01 Scope.

These Rules and Regulations shall govern the procedure by which agency records no longer necessary for the conduct of business or for purposes of audit or litigation may be disposed of. No records shall be disposed of unless permission has been obtained from the Department and the corporation counsel in accordance with the provisions of these Rules and Regulations.

§ 1-02 Definitions.

As used in these Rules and Regulations the following terms shall have the following meanings:

Department. “Department” means the department of records and information services.

Records. “Records” means any document, book, paper, photograph, sound recording, machine readable material or any other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official city business. Library and museum materials made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference and stocks of publications are not included within the definition of records as used in these Rules and Regulations.

Records disposal. “Records disposal” means:

   (1) the removal by a city agency, as provided herein, of records no longer necessary for the conduct of business or for purposes of audit or litigation. Methods of disposal include, but shall not be limited to:

      (i) the disposal of records by destruction or donation;

      (ii) the transfer of records to the Department;

      (iii) the transfer of records to the Department determined to have historical or other sufficient value to warrant continued preservation;

   (2) the transfer of records from one city agency to another city agency.

Records disposal schedule. “Records disposal schedule” means any list of records promulgated by the Department for an agency which lists the records maintained by that agency by title and defines the exact length of time for which the records shall be kept.

§ 1-03 Interim Records Disposal Schedules.

Pending the establishment of records disposal schedules pursuant to 49 RCNY § 1-04, all directions for the destruction of records issued by the Board of Estimate in the period of January 1, 1976 through December 31, 1978 which have been filed with the Department shall be deemed to constitute interim records disposal schedules unless the status of the records has changed. Agencies which presently maintain records of a type destroyed pursuant to such directions may request permission to dispose of any such records which have since become eligible for disposal. Eligibility for disposal shall be determined by reference to the schedules used by the Board of Estimate in issuing such directions. Requests to dispose of records pursuant to an interim disposal schedule will be made pursuant to 49 RCNY § 1-05.

§ 1-04 Procedure for Making Requests to Establish a Records Disposal Schedule.

(a) Agency requests for the establishment of a records disposal schedule shall be made to the Department on such forms as may be prescribed by the Department.
  1. Upon receipt of a request for the establishment of a records disposal schedule, the Department shall make a formal survey of records maintained by the agency. Based on the findings for such survey, a records disposal schedule shall be established by the Department and approved by the corporation counsel and the Office of the Comptroller. Each agency shall provide the Department, the corporation counsel and the comptroller with its full cooperation and shall provide any information necessary to evaluate the request. If the Department or the corporation counsel deems it necessary, the agency shall provide access to the records in question and, if requested, shall forward such records to the Department or corporation counsel for examination.
  2. The records disposal schedule for these records shall remain in force until the status of the records contained in the schedule changes.
  3. Upon change in status of records or at any time an agency determines that records not within its records disposal schedule are no longer necessary for the conduct of business or for purposes of audit or litigation, the agency may request the Department to make appropriate amendments to its records disposal schedule.

§ 1-05 Procedure for Annual Records Disposal.

Following promulgation of an approved records disposal schedule pursuant to 49 RCNY § 1-04, the agency will certify to the validity and currency of their schedule annually on forms provided by the Department on a date agreed upon by each city agency and the Department. The agency will also indicate the intention to destroy scheduled records 90 days after issuance of such certification and include a listing of those records, if any, which are to be held beyond the specified periods. The certification will list those retained records by title and date and state the reason for retention.

§ 1-06 Responses to Annual Certification.

(a) The Department and the corporation counsel will review the certification to ensure that it is valid. The Department or corporation counsel may disapprove the destruction of any other record on the schedule, but must indicate the title and date of such records and state the reason for retention.
  1. If the Department disapproves the destruction of records, it shall notify the agency and the corporation counsel prior to the expiration of the 90-day period provided in 49 RCNY § 1-05.
  2. If the corporation counsel disapproves the destruction of records, he shall notify the agency and the Department prior to the expiration of the 90-day period provided in 49 RCNY § 1-05.
  3. In no case shall any agency proceed with the destruction of records until the agency certification form is returned by both the Department and the corporation counsel indicating both have received and reviewed it. The returned receipted form will constitute authorization for an agency to proceed with their annual disposal of records.
  4. Following notice that disposal of records has been authorized, the agency shall dispose of such records forthwith. Each agency must certify to the Department that the records have been disposed of within 60 days of such notice.

§ 1-07 Historical Records.

No request for disposal of records shall be granted if in the judgment of the Department such records should be retained for historical or research purposes. Upon request of the Department an agency in possession of records which are no longer necessary for the conduct of business or for purposes of audit or litigation and which are deemed to be of historical or research value shall transfer such records to the municipal archives for permanent custody.

Chapter 3: Municipal Archives Guidelines Regarding Access To Archival Material

§ 3-01 Municipal Archives Regulations Governing Use of Archival Material.

The New York City Municipal Archives, a division of the Department of Records and Information Services, is open to all qualified persons subject to the following regulations:

  1. Access to Materials.

   (1) Researchers must provide acceptable identification upon request.

   (2) All researchers must sign the register daily.

   (3) Researchers using collections other than vital records must fill out and sign a registration form (MA-18) indicating name, affiliation, if any, and specifying the subject and purpose of the research.

   (4) Archival material may not be removed from the Municipal Archives without written permission from the Director.

   (5) Special access restrictions and procedures apply to New York County District Attorney closed case files, and Board of Education “anti-Communist” case files.

  1. Reference Room Rules.

   (1) Researchers may bring only those materials needed for research to the document research area.

   (2) Coats, bags, briefcases, and other personal articles are not permitted in the document research area.

   (3) Archives staff reserve the right to inspect all research materials, briefcases, bags and other personal articles before a researcher leaves the Reference Room.

   (4) Food and beverages are not permitted in the Reference Room.

   (5) All notes must be taken with pencil, typewriter, word processor, or tape recorder. Ink pens may not be used.

   (6) Researchers may not photograph or scan archival material.

   (7) Archival material is fragile. Researchers may not write upon, lean upon, mark or otherwise mishandle material. Researchers should report any damaged material to staff immediately.

   (8) Researchers must preserve the existing order of material and notify staff if any material is discovered to be not in order.

  1. Reproduction and Publication of Materials. The Municipal Archives recognizes its responsibility to facilitate access to its collections by permitting the reproduction, reprinting, publishing, or other use of archival material, subject to the following conditions:

   (1) The physical condition of an item may prohibit reproduction.

   (2) Reproductions are provided for the researcher’s personal use. They may not be reduplicated or transferred to another individual or institution.

   (3) Researchers may use the self-service photocopy machines available in the Reference Room.

   (4) Researchers must ask for staff assistance when copying fragile or oversize material.

   (5) Permission to publish, reprint, broadcast, re-duplicate, or make other use of archival material may be granted subject to the conditions indicated in the Publish/Use Contract form (MA-45), and may be subject to licensing or use fees. The Director shall decide when and to what degree these restrictions shall apply.

  1. Citation.

   (1) Proper acknowledgment or credit must be given to the Municipal Archives for all material used.

   (2) The citation should be written as follows (after identification of the item and title of the collection): NYC Department of Records/Municipal Archives.

   (3) The Municipal Archives would appreciate receiving copies of any research results. Any violation of these rules governing the use of Municipal Archives material may be considered sufficient cause for denial of future access.

§ 3-02 Municipal Archives Guidelines for Archival Use of Board of Education “Anti-Communist” Case Files.

  1. The Municipal Archives preserves and makes available for research historical records of the New York City Board of Education (“the Board”). This collection includes several records series (nos. 590, 591, 593, 594, 595, 596 and 597) that pertain to the “anti-Communist” activities of the Board from the 1930s through the 1960s. They contain personal and confidential information relating to teachers and other school personnel investigated and/or questioned by the Board for alleged support of or association with the Communist Party. The individuals who are the subject of these files have a privacy right regarding information of a personal nature contained in them; this includes a privacy right regarding the fact that the subject case file exists.
  2. The regulations governing public access to all archival material are set forth in 49 RCNY § 3-01. In addition to those regulations, public access to the “anti-Communist” case file series is governed by the following additional regulations and/or procedures:

   (1) Researchers who request access to a specific file for the purpose of researching the views or activities of the individual who is the subject of that file or of another individual named in that file must obtain permission for such access from the subject individual and from the named individual, as applicable. If the subject or named individual is deceased or unable to give or deny permission, such permission must be obtained from the individual’s legal heirs or custodians, as specified in forms MA-101A, MA-101B, and MA-101C.

   (2) Researchers engaged in more general research not limited to a particular individual or individuals may access files in the restricted series upon certifying that they will neither record nor use any names or personally identifiable material obtained from such files, form (MA-101D).

   (3) When a researcher accesses a file with permission from the individual who is the subject of that file, the Archives will redact the names of other individuals in the file whose permission has not been obtained.

   (4) Self-service photocopying is not available for anti-Communist case file documents. All photocopies will be redacted to remove information identifying any individual whose permission has not been obtained.

   (5) Published materials and materials created for general distribution, such as newspaper clippings and press releases, are not subject to the restrictions set forth in this section.

§ 3-03 Municipal Archives Guidelines for Archival Use of District Attorney Records.

  1. The Municipal Archives preserves and makes available for research the closed case files of the New York County District Attorney (“DANY”). The case files date back to 1896, and constitute one of the most important series in the Archives’ extensive collection of records pertaining to the administration of criminal justice. In accordance with the duly promulgated record retention schedule for this series, the closed case files are transferred to the Municipal Archives for permanent preservation twenty-five years after the date (year) of indictment.
  2. The regulation governing public access to all archival material are set forth in 49 RCNY § 3-01 of this chapter. In addition to those regulations, public access to District Attorney case files that are less than fifty years old (from the year of indictment) are governed by the following additional regulations and/or procedures:

   (1) For requests to examine records in case files that are less than fifty years old (from the year of indictment), the Municipal Archives Director, or an authorized staff member, will submit to DANY the following information: name of researcher and affiliation, if any, subject and purpose of research, case file number(s) and name(s) of defendant(s). The Municipal Archives will submit this information to DANY prior to granting the researcher access to the requested records. DANY will be permitted to examine the material in the requested file(s) and separate any items as to which (a) public disclosure is prohibited by statute or court order (e.g. minutes of Grand Jury proceedings); or (b) disclosure would threaten the life or safety of any person, such as information about confidential informants or undercover law enforcement personnel. The Municipal Archives will not permit access to any items separated by DANY from other items in the file. The DANY will have five business days (from the date of notification that the case file is available) in which to conduct a case file review.

   (2) For all case files regardless of age, the Municipal Archives will not permit access to minutes of Grand Jury proceedings or any other records as to which disclosure is prohibited by statute or court order. The Municipal Archives will also consider requests by DANY to maintain the confidentiality of records whose age is greater than 50 years when exceptional circumstances warrant granting such request.

Chapter 2: Municipal Archives Research Service and Copy Fee Schedule

§ 2-01 Vital Records.

Additional charges for oversize, cropping, or other services and products.