For children in out-of-home care (OOHC) and adults who experienced OOHC as children, the records compiled by care workers, social workers and other relevant personnel present multiple ongoing problems. The records often embody deeply contested narratives that may include distortions and misinterpretations of facts, judgemental inferences, moralistic attitudes and other problematic aspects that can leave the care leaver at best ill-served and at worst profoundly distressed and traumatised. This article, an auto-ethnographic collaboration between a social work professional and two care leavers, aims to address these issues by constructing a ‘virtual archive’ consisting of several hypothetical records compiled in the style typically employed by caseworkers, which are then critiqued by the care leavers. In each case, the record is found to have significant shortcomings in terms of what is included or omitted, the tone, and implied judgements. The article concludes with a discussion that identifies a number of thematic issues and pitfalls intrinsic to the task of record-keeping in the OOHC context and makes recommendations aimed at achieving inclusive, rights-based processes and procedures in the creation and maintenance of records.