Need for retention of cover letters for sourced information

In 2003, my mother applied to the Alberta Registries for the death records for her uncle. The resulting information packet contained a cover letter, a certified photographic print of the "Medical Certificate of Cause of Death" and the "Registration of Death". I inherited this material in 2018 and am still trying to address its documentation and filing.

While the cover letter provides what appears to be registry records search parameters, it does not seem to supply any additional historical info. It does, however, provide some info of evidential/analytical value in the form of the Name of the Requestor, the Registry's print-issue date and service request number.

I am trying to "cure" myself of being an "information packrat". So; I am wondering whether I really need to retain the covering letter and envelope on file, once I've incorporated any relevant information into a citation for the individual certified photographic prints.

I see the same retention issue being likely to occur when addressing some of the clippings received from a research request to a genealogical society.

Have you any advice on how to determine what to keep on file for such "packaged information"?

Submitted byEEon Thu, 10/19/2023 - 17:01

History-Hunter, retaining the cover letter from agencies transmitting records is usually a wise idea. Whether we should retain the envelope generally depends upon whether there is any information on the envelope that is not on the cover letter.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 10/19/2023 - 17:29

Thank you. Trying to ensure that the cover letter remains associated with the balance of the package is a bit of a filing challenge. This will take a bit of thought.

The challenge is actually relevant to both physical and digital filing. However; I think I may have found a solution that is viable for my workflow.

A bit of relevant background. on my workflow...
When I receive physical information/artifacts, I digitize/photograph the material and then write a companion file to capture the citation, any transcription/translation and any research notes. For electronic information, I have a similar documentation practice. Entry of the information into my database comes only after this is done and is easily done from the digital files. This practice guarantees that I am not tied to any particular software program and also serves as an initial "backup" that is stored offsite. All I can really lose is anything extra that I add from within the program.

However; information received in packages may not pertain to a single person or subject and such packages often come with a cover letter or itemized list of contents. The cover letter or list of contents is usually not directly referenced in my work, as its only purpose is to define the original package, which provides information about the provenance of the contents. If I've already created my citation for each item, the cover letter or list of contents has no actual value in the subsequent digital portion of my workflow.

Perhaps the answer to my issue is simply to file the entire package (physically or electronicly) and name it to reflect what I've called it in my citation of its components. This ensures the association of everything I've received, including the cover letter or content list, with the filed package. Then, I can safely allocate my digitized images and companion files to the appropriate people/events in my filing system. The citations will point me to the originally filed package.