Robert’s Rules of Order Revised > 10. The Officers and the Minutes. > 60. The Minutes.

Henry M. Robert (1837–1923).  Robert’s Rules of Order Revised.  1915.

60. The Minutes.

The record of the proceedings of a deliberative assembly is usually called the Minutes, or the Record, or the Journal. The essentials of the record are as follows: (a) the kind of meeting, “regular” (or stated) or “special,” or “adjourned regular” or “adjourned special”; (b) name of the assembly; (c) date of meeting and place, when it is not always the same; (d) the fact of the presence of the regular chairman and secretary, or in their absence the names of their substitutes; (e) whether the minutes of the previous meeting were approved, or their reading dispensed with, the dates of the meetings being given when it is customary to occasionally transact business at other than the regular business meetings; (f) all the main motions (except such as were withdrawn) and points of order and appeals, whether sustained or lost, and all other motions that were not lost or withdrawn; (g) and usually the hours of meeting and adjournment, when the meeting is solely for business. Generally the name is recorded of the member who introduced a main motion, but not of the seconder.
In some societies the minutes are signed by the president in addition to the secretary, and when published they should always be signed by both officers. If minutes are not habitually approved at the next meeting, then there should be written at the end of the minutes the word “Approved” and the date of the approval, which should be signed by the secretary. They should be entered in good black ink in a well-bound record-book. 44
The Form of the Minutes may be as follows:
At a regular meeting of the M. L. Society, held in their hall, on Thursday evening, March 19, 1914, the president in the chair, and Mr. N acting as secretary, the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved. The Committee on Applications reported the names of Messrs. C and D as applicants for membership, and on motion of Mr. F they were admitted as members. The committee on … reported through Mr. G a series of resolutions, which were thoroughly discussed and amended, and finally adopted, as follows:
Resolved, That … On motion of Mr. L the society adjourned at 10 P. M.
R… N…
In keeping the minutes, much depends upon the kind of meeting, and whether the minutes are to be published. In the meetings of ordinary societies and of boards of managers and trustees, there is no object in reporting the debates; the duty of the secretary, in such cases, is mainly to record what is “done” by the assembly, and not what is said by the members. He should enter the essentials of a record, as previously stated, and when a count has been ordered or where the vote is by ballot, he should enter the number of votes on each side; and when the voting is by yeas and nays he should enter a list of the names of those voting on each side. The proceedings of the committee of the whole, or while acting as if in committee of the whole, should not be entered in the minutes, but the report of the committee should be entered. When a question is considered informally, the proceedings should be kept as usual, as the only informality is in the debate. If a report containing resolutions has been agreed to, the resolutions should be entered in full as finally adopted by the assembly, thus: “The committee on … submitted a report with a series of resolutions which, after discussion and amendment, were adopted as follows:” then should be entered the resolutions as adopted. Where the proceedings are published, the method shown further on should be followed. If the report is of great importance the assembly should order it “to be entered on the minutes,” in which case the secretary copies it in full upon the record.
Where the regular meetings are held weekly, monthly, or quarterly, the minutes are read at the opening of each day’s meeting, and, after correction, should be approved. Where the meetings are held several days in succession with recesses during the day, the minutes are read at the opening of business each day. If the next meeting of the organization will not be held for a long period, as six months or a year, the minutes that have not been read previously should be read and approved before final adjournment. If this is impracticable, then the executive committee, or a special committee, should be authorized to correct and approve them. In this case the record should be signed as usual, and after the signatures the word “Approved,” with the date and the signature of the chairman of the committee authorized to approve them. At the next meeting, six months later, they need not be read, unless it is desired for information, as it is too late to correct them intelligently. When the reading of the minutes is dispensed with they can afterwards be taken up at any time when nothing is pending. If not taken up previously, they come before the assembly at the next meeting before the reading of the later minutes. With this exception the motion to dispense with reading the minutes is practically identical with the motion to lay the minutes on the table, being undebatable and requiring only a majority vote. The minutes of a secret meeting, as for the trial of a member, should not be read at a meeting that is open to the public, if the record contains any of the details of the trial that should not be made public.
Minutes to be Published. When the minutes are to be published, in addition to the strict record of what is done, as heretofore described, they should contain a list of the speakers on each side of every question, with an abstract of all addresses, if not the addresses in full, when written copies are furnished. In this case the secretary should have an assistant. With some annual conventions it is desired to publish the proceedings in full. In such cases it is necessary to employ a stenographer as assistant to the secretary. Reports of committees should be printed exactly as submitted, the minutes showing what action was taken by the assembly in regard to them; or, they may be printed with all additions in italics and parts struck out enclosed in brackets, in which case a note to that effect should precede the report or resolutions. In this way the reader can see exactly what the committee reported and also exactly what the assembly adopted or endorsed.

Note 44.  In many organizations it is preferable for the secretary to keep his original pencil notes in a pocket memorandum book which he carries to every meeting, and these original notes, as corrected, are approved and then copied into the permanent records. This plan usually results in neater records, but the original notes should be kept until they are carefully compared with the permanent records. In such case it is better to have the minutes signed by both president and secretary as a guarantee against errors in copying. [back]

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