Using the Records Retention Schedule Database

Sometimes when I try to perform an action, the screen jumps back to the main list of schedules. What is happening?

Most likely the system has been inactive for a period of time. It needs to reconnect and log itself back in to the underlying dataset.

How are the records retention schedules organized?

The records retention schedules are divided into two top level jurisdictions: the Municipal Records Retention Schedule and the Statewide Agencies Records Retention Schedule.

Within each jurisdiction there is a section of "Records in Common." These are records series that are held by multiple offices and departments, and they include common types of records such as Administrative records, Facilities and Transportation records, Fiscal records, Legal and Regulatory records, and Personnel records.

In addition to the "Records in Common" the Municipal Records Retention Schedule has a list of municipal government offices and departments. Records series that are specific to each of these offices and departments are accessible by clicking on the name.

For the Statewide Records Retention Schedule, there is a more detailed hierarchy of agencies, sub-agencies and departments. You will need to navigate to the lowest level of the hierarchy to access information about specific records series.

What do the different retention periods mean?

The retention periods of the various records series are grouped into four broad categories:

ADMIN USE: Retain these records until they are no longer used or needed; this is the Administrative Use period of the record. Permission from the Records Conservation Board (state agencies) and the Supervisor of Public Records (municipalities) is not need to destroy these records.

ARCHREVIEW: These records may have historical significance beyond their primary function. Contact the Massachusetts Archives to review the materials to determine their final disposition.

PERMANENT: Permanent records are to be retained for the life of the Commonwealth, and must be maintained in an accessible form. Records created by state agencies that are designated as PERMANENT are eligible for transfer to the Massachusetts Archives. Permanent municipal records must be retained within the municipality.

RETAIN: Records series with a designation of RETAIN are often followed by a "+" and a number. This is an indication of how many years the record should be retained. There are often additional conditions involved in determining the exact period these records should be retained, so please view the full record for a records series to see the complete description of the retention period.

Browsing the Schedules

Browsing the schedules is quick and easy. One option is to select the "Expand All" link in the left hand column under the Jurisdiction/Department heading. This will expand the hierarchies for both the Municipal and Statewide schedule to the lowest level. Then click on the appropriate lowest level directory to view records series in this category.

Another option is to selectively expand the hierarchy by clicking on the plus sign plus signnext to each directory. For example, you can click the plus next to the Statewide Agency Records Schedule to expand to show the two options of the Agency Schedules and the Records in Common. From there you could expand the Agency Schedules and bring up a list of top level divisions and agencies. You could then expand the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. From there, you can click on the Archives Division to view records series applicable to the Massachusetts Archives, or continue to explore further down the hierarchy of the Public Records Division or other entities under the Secretary.

Searching the Schedules

To Search the Schedules, start by clicking on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the main text area. magnifying glass  The search bar that is part of the page header searches the website of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, not the Retention Schedule Database.

The "All fields" search conducts a keyword search of all available field. When selected, no other fields can be utilized. If you are using the "Keyword for Description" search, use quotation marks when you are looking for more than one word i.e. "purchase order" and use an asterisk "*" for a wildcard. If you filter your search by Jurisdiction, there will be a slight delay as all applicable Department options load.

What reports are available in the system?

Individual Schedule Report
This report provides all available fields for one single schedule.

Schedule List Excel
This report produces an Excel spreadsheet of the schedule titles, descriptions, and abbreviated retention periods. You need to change the output from PDF to XLS in the Report Format box under the page header.

Title and Description and Retention Report
This report lists the schedule title, full description and full retention designation in a table format. It can be run as either a pdf or as a spreadsheet

How can I modify the reports and forms that are generated by this system?

Once this report is generated, you can download it to your computer. Then open it with Abode Reader and utilize the Typewriter feature (Abode Reader 8/9/10) or the Add Comment – Text feature (Abode XI). Save the completed form locally and email it the Records Conservation Board (state agencies) at or to the Supervisor of Public Records (municipalities) at

Adobe Reader 8 and 9:

  • Select the Tools tab
  • Select the Typewriter
  • Position cursor in the document and start typing

Adobe Reader 10:

  • Select the Tools tab
  • Select the Add or Edit Text box
  • Position cursor in the document and start typing

Adobe Reader XI:

  • Select the Comment tab
  • Select the T to turn on "Add Text"
  • Position the cursor in the document and start typing