Series F-260-6 - Email records

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Email records

General material designation

  • Textual records
  • Photographic materials
  • Records in electronic form (born-digital)

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Dates of creation area


  • 2000-2008, 2012 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

5873 email messages with attachments (579.5 MB)

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Custodial history

The records were created through Fellman's SFU email account and stored on the university's electronic mail servers, maintained by SFU IT Services (ITS). In March 2013, ITS made a backup copy of Fellman's account and stored it offline. In August 2018 the backup was transferred to the Archives and ingested to its digital preservation system (Archivematica). In the fall of 2019, the Archives retrieved the records from backlog and appraised, selected and processed the materials using ePADD software.

Scope and content

Series consists of email messages sent or received by Fellman from his SFU email account ( Activities documented include personal correspondence with family and friends; exchanges with other scholars relating to research interests; correspondence with his literary agent, publishers, and media outlets; academic and professional work, including conference attendance, teaching, supervision of graduate students, and SFU administrative duties; and Fellman's work as a board member of Jewish Family Services Vancouver and the College of Psychologists of British Columbia. Activities, topics, and correspondents overlap considerably with records (paper, analog, and digital) contained in all other series in the fonds.

The vast bulk of the emails date from 2000-2008. That Fellman's account was still active after 2008 is indicated by a small number of 2012 sent emails, print copies of post-2008 emails included in the paper files, and the fact that a large number of emails were received by the account after his death (mostly deleted by the archivist, see the General note on appraisal below). In 2008-2009 SFU moved to the Zimbra Collaboration Suite email platform. Most of Fellman's surviving email predates this switch, as indicated by the mailbox folder names ("Eudora/" and "SFUWebmail-old/"). All this suggests that virtually all Fellman's email from his Zimbra account was deleted at some point in 2012 and that what survives in the email archive are mainly messages carried forward from the old systems.

The Archives has retained the email as a single series, with no arrangement into sub-series. At the time the account was backed up and put offline (2013), the email was organized into three main groups of folders: the Inbox and Outbox of the current Zimbra account; a group of folders originating with the Eudora email platform; and a third group labelled "SFUWebmail-old." This mailbox structure is preserved in the email archive as processed by the archivist, and the messages can all be viewed in the context of their original folders at time of transfer.

The archivist used ePADD software to process the email and applied only minimal post-transfer curation: basic descriptive information was provided at the ePADD collection and accession levels (see the note on Finding aids below); appraisal and selection was applied (see the General note on appraisal below); and the list of correspondents was normalized where possible so that an individual's various email aliases are grouped under a single entry in the form LastName, FirstName. But no tags, annotations or restrictions were applied at the individual message level.

Note that there is some overlap with series 7, Desktop correspondence and working files. Some of the electronic documents retained by Fellman on his computer (series 7) appear to be copies of messages exported / migrated from the email system to Word or text documents.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

The records originated from several different email platforms in use at SFU over the period 2000-2012: Eudora and the SFU webmail system (pre-2009); and the Zimbra Collaboration Suite platform (in use from 2009-2018). In March 2013 SFU IT Services created an offline copy of Fellman's account; this stored the email messages and attachments in Zimbra's own backup directory structure. On transfer to Archives in 2018, an archivist converted the email to the mbox format.

In 2019-20 the Archives used ePADD open-source software to process the mbox files. The Archives has preserved three distinct packages in its digital preservation system. (i) The preservation copy is the initial mbox generated at transfer in 2018. (ii) The access copy is the ePADD output, designed for use with that application and supporting ePADD-specific curation and access features. (iii) All attachments have been ingested separately in their original formats with copies in preservation and access formats. Attachments are also included in (i) and (ii) in the context of their associated messages, but only in (iii) are they normalized for long-term preservation and access purposes.

Restrictions on access

The correspondence includes sensitive personal information of third parties, including educational, employment and medical history. The Archives will not attempt to manage restrictions on a message-by-message basis, rather the entire series is restricted. This decision is based on several considerations: the ubiquity of personal information throughout the series; the large volume of records that would need to be reviewed individually; and the organization of the records, where personal information may be linked across multiple threads and attachments.

Consultation of the records is possible under the terms of a formal Research Agreement. The Archives has not yet fully worked out how it will provide access. The plan is to install ePADD software on a dedicated terminal in the Archives' reading room to manage access; however at this time of writing (Feb 2020) this has not yet been implemented. See the note on Finding aids below, and consult the reference archivist for more information on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The series contains copyright-protected materials, and copyright ownership is mixed. For more information, see the note on Terms governing use at the fonds level.

Finding aids

The Archives plans to provide access to the records through ePADD software installed on a dedicated terminal in the reading room. ePADD provides multiple supports for navigation and access. Users can browse email by original mailbox folder, correspondent, named entities, and ePADD "lexicons" (thematic groups based on related words). Attachments can be viewed from the original associated message or as a list browsed by title or type. The search interface supports both simple keyword and field-specific queries, and results can be filtered by various facets. Users work with a copy of the records and can create their own labels, annotations, and exports.

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Associated materials

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No further accruals are expected.

General note

Appraisal: The original transfer contained slightly more than 8000 messages; ca. 5900 of these (73%) were retained for permanent preservation. The following categories were NOT retained:

  • (i) Emails received by the account following Fellman's death; this accounted for about 88% of the destructions. Exceptions were made for correspondents unaware of his death, following up on previous exchanges; and for persons seeking to contact the family with condolences.
  • (ii) Obvious junk mail, spam, and wide-distribution promotional messages and advertising (5% of destructions).
  • (iii) Automated bounce-back responses, e.g. out-of-office notices, deposit notices (5% of destructions).
  • (iv) Messages containing errors, e.g. no correspondent or messages (2% of destructions).

While category (i) and (iv) messages were easily identified, the others were not pursued systematically, just flagged as they were encountered during processing. No doubt a number of individual messages of these types went unidentified and are included in the email archive.

Physical description

Includes 687 attachments: 287 images and 400 documents.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Feb 2020: arrangement and description finalized (RD).

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