Manual Starting an Archives (Society of American Archivists)

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It is impossible to keep everything, nor should you want to. Basic questions to ask when considering adding materials to your collection should include: What is the significance of the material? Is it appropriate for my archives?

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Is another archives already collecting this? Are copies available elsewhere? Do I have the resources to take care of this material according to archival standards? Your answers to these questions will determine your next step. After you decide to keep the material, you must accession it immediately. Accessioning is the process by which the archives registers the collection, identifies the donor and type of donation, indicates terms of the gift and access, and reviews the physical condition of the materials.

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Next, the materials must be arranged, both physically and intellectually, to provide proper storage and access. The arrangement of the materials depends on their physical format generally, store like with like , their intellectual content, and their original order and arrangement maintain original order whenever possible.

When dealing with personal papers, or records of organizations that have undergone upheavals, it may not be possible to discover or restore original order. It is up to the archivist to decide which arrangement scheme is best for each collection.

VII. Conclusion

Physically processing and arranging a collection includes cleaning, removing metals staples, paper clips, etc. Intellectual access is created by describing a collection in a collection guide. This should include the collection title; size; location number; a brief history of the individual, family, business, or organization around which the collection was formed; a scope and content note describing the contents of the collection in a textual way; and a box and folder inventory that lists the contents at the level of the storage unit.

You may also want to catalog the collection, preferably using national standards e. Collection guides and cataloging records should be updated when materials are added. An archives is not merely a warehouse for materials not wanted elsewhere, or a reference service for the governing body of your organization.

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Ideally, it should be open to researchers from beyond your organization. Archives provide rich research and educational materials, and exhibits and displays can raise historical consciousness on topics important to your group. To become more familiar with archival practices, procedures, and terminology, read the archival literature, consult with other archivists, and attend professional meetings.

State and regional meetings are especially good places to network. The Society of American Archivists SAA offers an excellent set of basic manuals for establishing and maintaining an archives. There are also numerous websites and listservs that can provide you with critical information. All types of archives should follow the same general principles, even though the materials collected by archives are quite diverse. Below is a brief description of some basic types of archives. Academic archives are created to preserve the records of a college or university.

They include administrative records, such as correspondence files, financial and other reports, personnel and student records, and minutes of committees and boards.


Also included may be materials from alumni and publicity offices, campus publications, and three-dimensional memorabilia. The official records of local, state, and national governments are preserved in government archives, and are subject to records retention schedules. The types of materials held may differ with the level of government, but can include official papers of elected officials; meeting minutes; legislation, tax, and voting records; vital statistics; court records; and personnel, land, and military records. Local history archives often reside in a local historical society or a public library.

Collections may consist of the personal papers of individuals and families; records of businesses, groups, and organizations; and materials about the history and geography of the area. Personal papers may include correspondence, legal documents, photographs, printed items, and artifacts. Business and organizational records are similar to those found in organizational archives. Because of the diversity of materials, local history archives can be especially challenging to create, maintain, and use. These archives maintain the records of a business or special interest group.

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Types of materials include minutes, correspondence files, promotional materials, legal and tax records, and financial records. Often, the person who is responsible for the archives is also the organization's records manager and must set the lengths of time various records must be kept. The records of a religious institution form the collections of a religious archives. They may be located in individual churches, or sent to a regional or national repository maintained by the religious body.

Records may contain information about membership and congregational actions of churches, as well as organizational records of the religious body at regional and national levels. Log in. Membership Member Directory. Events Annual Meeting.

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Search this Guide Search. Starting in , the Academy is an independent, nonprofit certifying organization of professional archivists.

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American Society Of Archivists. Starting in , the Society is North America's oldest and largest professional association representing more than 6, professional archivists. There are currently about 2, members. Archivists Of Religious Institutions. Starting in , the ARI promotes discussion of matters of particular concern to archivists in religious institutions and agencies. Membership includes many who are "lone arrangers" and from small-scale archival repositories. ARMA International. There are 27, members in over 30 countries. Association Of Canadian Archivists.

Starting in , the ACA is a nonprofit association that represents over Canadian archivists that work to provide the archival profession leadership and to facilitate an understanding and appreciation of Canada's archival heritage. Association Of Moving Image Archivists. Starting in , the AMIA is a nonprofit international association dedicated to the preservation and use of moving image media. Three Texas archives are listed in their resource directory "Deep Focus".

Council Of State Archivists. Starting in , the CoSA works to strengthen state and territorial archives in their work to preserve America's historical records. International Council On Archives. Starting in , the ICA aims to promote the management and use of records and archives, and the preservation of the archival heritage of humanity around the world.