Word History: The Meaning of Transfer in Records Management

Although it can have multiple meanings in literature and everyday life, in records management, the word transfer describes a specific step in operations.
Here is a brief explanation.

The French word for transfer, versement, was first used in 1273 to describe the action of pouring a liquid. In his novel Les Misérables, Victor Hugo wrote: in this prodigious expenditure of rays, in this infinite transfer of liquid gold, one felt the prodigiousness of the inexhaustible.

By 1695, transfer defined the action of paying money to a bank or as part of a ransom or pension, but its meaning would evolve still further. It gained a figurative dimension when Beaumarchais used it in his collected works in 1778: a letter proves quite well the sweet familiarity, the perfect confidence and the entire transfer of his soul into mine.

Verlaine then used transfer in his collected works to describe the act of moving a person to a new location, writing: it was a question of transferring a certain category of married guards in the marching battalions.


Transfer in records management

versement dans l archivage

In the field of communication, transfer describes the action of handing over an object or goods. In records management, the word has a similar meaning.

The transfer of records is the administrative and physical act by which records are transferred from the institution that creates and collects them to the records management receiving authority.

This process ensures efficient access to information and improves the management of the physical space allotted to current and intermediate records. Record transfers are highly regulated, notably by article L.212-8 of the French Heritage Code.


A crucial step

The records transfer takes place once the documents to be transferred have been prepared and a transfer slip has been completed. The slip generally indicates the classification or numbering of the records concerned, their titles, their retention periods and expiry dates, the date of communication, and any observations. The slip must be fully completed and signed by the person in charge of the record management services for the transfer to go ahead.

Once the transfer is finalised, a copy of the completed and signed transfer slip is issued to the transferring institution. This document is a record of receipt and must be retained.

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