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Shelved record boxes of an archive.

An archive is an accumulation of historical records – in any media – or the physical facility in which they are located.[1] Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization. Professional archivists and historians generally understand archives to be records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative, or social activities. They have been metaphorically defined as "the secretions of an organism",[2] and are distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.

In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines of which many identical copies may exist. This means that archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.[3]

A person who works in archives is called an archivist. The study and practice of organizing, preserving, and providing access to information and materials in archives is called archival science. The physical place of storage can be referred to as an archive (more usual in the United Kingdom), an archives (more usual in the United States), or a repository.[4][5]

The computing use of the term "archive" should not be confused with the record-keeping meaning of the term.

Etymology

The English word archive /ˈɑːrkv/ is derived from the French archives (plural), and in turn from Latin archīum or archīvum,[6] the romanized form of the Greek ἀρχεῖον (arkheion). The Greek term originally referred to the home or dwelling of the Archon, a ruler or chief magistrate, in which important official state documents were filed and interpreted; from there its meaning broadened to encompass such concepts as "town hall" and "public records".[7] The root of the Greek word is ἀρχή (arkhē), meaning among other things "magistracy, office, government",historical records – in any media – or the physical facility in which they are located.[1] Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization. Professional archivists and historians generally understand archives to be records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative, or social activities. They have been metaphorically defined as "the secretions of an organism",[2] and are distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.

In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines of which many identical copies may exist. This means that archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.[3]

A person who works in archives is called an archivist. The study and

In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines of which many identical copies may exist. This means that archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.[3]

A person who works in archives is called an archivist. The study and practice of organizing, preserving, and providing access to information and materials in archives is called archival science. The physical place of storage can be referred to as an archive (more usual in the United Kingdom), an archives (more usual in the United States), or a repository.[4][5]

The computing use of the term "archive" should not be confused with the record-keeping meaning of the term.

The English word archive /ˈɑːrkv/ is derived from the French archives (plural), and in turn from Latin archīum or archīvum,[6] the romanized form of the Greek ἀρχεῖον (arkheion). The Greek term originally referred to the home or dwelling of the Archon, a ruler or chief magistrate, in which important official state documents were filed and interpreted; from there its meaning broadened to encompass such concepts as "town hall" and "public records".[7] The root of the Greek word is ἀρχή (arkhē), meaning among other things "magistracy, office, government",[8] and derived from the verb ἄρχω (arkhō), meaning "to begin, rule, govern" (also the root of English words such as "anarchy" and "monarchy").[9]

The word archive is first attested in English in the early 17th century, and the word archivist in the mid 18th century, although in these periods both terms are usually found used only in reference to foreign institutions and personnel. Not until the late 19th century did they begin to be used at all widely in domestic contexts.[5][10]

The adjective formed from archive is archival.

History

The practice of keeping official documents is very old. Archaeologists have discovered archives of hundreds (and sometime thousands) of clay tablets going back to the third and second millennia BC in sites like Ebla, Mari, Amarna, Hattusas, Ugarit, and Pylos. These discoveries have been fundamental to know ancient alphabets, languages, literature, and politics.

Archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks, and ancient Romans (who called them Tabularia). However, they have been lost, since documents written on materials like papyrus and paper deteriorated at a faster pace, unlike their stone tablet counterparts. Archives of churches, kingdoms, and cities from the Middle Ages survive and have often kept their official status uninterruptedly until now. They are the basic tool for historical research on these ages.[11]

England after 1066 developed archives and archival research methods.[12] The Swiss developed archival systems after 1450.[13]

Modern archival thinking has many roots from the French Revolution. The French National Archives, who possess perhaps the largest archival collection in the world, with records going as far back as 625 A.D., were created in 1790 during the Revolution from various government, religious, and private arc

The word archive is first attested in English in the early 17th century, and the word archivist in the mid 18th century, although in these periods both terms are usually found used only in reference to foreign institutions and personnel. Not until the late 19th century did they begin to be used at all widely in domestic contexts.[5][10]

The adjective formed from archive is archival.

The practice of keeping official documents is very old. Archaeologists have discovered archives of hundreds (and sometime thousands) of clay tablets going back to the third and second millennia BC in sites like Ebla, Mari, Amarna, Hattusas, Ugarit, and Pylos. These discoveries have been fundamental to know ancient alphabets, languages, literature, and politics.

Archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks, and ancient Romans (who called them Tabularia). However, they have been lost, since documents written on materials like pa

Archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks, and ancient Romans (who called them Tabularia). However, they have been lost, since documents written on materials like papyrus and paper deteriorated at a faster pace, unlike their stone tablet counterparts. Archives of churches, kingdoms, and cities from the Middle Ages survive and have often kept their official status uninterruptedly until now. They are the basic tool for historical research on these ages.[11]

England after 1066 developed archives and archival research methods.[12] The Swiss developed archival systems after 1450.[13]

Modern archival thinking has many roots from the French Revolution. The French National Archives, who possess perhaps the largest archival collection in the world, with records going as far back as 625 A.D., were created in 1790 during the Revolution from various government, religious, and private archives seized by the revolutionaries.[14]

Historians, genealogists, lawyers, demographers, filmmakers, and others conduct research at archives.[15] The research process at each archive is unique, and depends upon the institution that houses the archive. While there are many kinds of archives, the most recent census of archivists in the United States identifies five major types: academic, business (for profit), government, non-profit, and other.[16] There are also four main areas of inquiry involved with archives: material technologies, organizing principles, geographic locations, and tangled embodiments of humans and non-humans. These areas help to further categorize what kind of archive is being created.

Academic

archivist.[17][page needed] Academic archives exist to preserve institutional history and serve the academic community.[18] An academic archive may contain materials such as the institution's administrative records, personal and professional papers of former professors and presidents, memorabilia related to school organizations and activities, and items the academic library wishes to remain in a closed-stack setting, such as rare books or thesis copies. Access to the collections in these archives is usually by prior appointment only; some have posted hours for making inquiries. Users of academic archives can be undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff, scholarly researchers, and the general public. Many academic archives work closely with alumni relations departments or other campus institutions to help raise funds for their library or school.[19] Qualifications for employment may vary. Entry-level positions usually require an undergraduate diploma, but typically archivists hold graduate degrees in history or library science (preferably certified by a body such as the American Library Association).[20] Subject-area specialization becomes more common in higher ranking positions.[21]

Business (for profit)

Archives located in for-profit institutions are usually those owned by a private business. Examples of prominent business archives in the United States include Coca-Cola (which also owns the separate museum World of Coca-Cola), Procter and Gamble, Motorola Heritage Services and Archives, and Levi Strauss & Co. These corporate archives maintain historic documents and items related to the history and administration of their companies.[22] Business archives serve the purpose of helping their corporations maintain control over their brand by retaining memories of the company's past. Especially in business archives, records management is separate from the historic aspect of archives. Worke

Archives located in for-profit institutions are usually those owned by a private business. Examples of prominent business archives in the United States include Coca-Cola (which also owns the separate museum World of Coca-Cola), Procter and Gamble, Motorola Heritage Services and Archives, and Levi Strauss & Co. These corporate archives maintain historic documents and items related to the history and administration of their companies.[22] Business archives serve the purpose of helping their corporations maintain control over their brand by retaining memories of the company's past. Especially in business archives, records management is separate from the historic aspect of archives. Workers in these types of archives may have any combination of training and degrees, from either a history or library background. These archives are typically not open to the public and only used by workers of the owner company, though some allow approved visitors by appointment.[23] Business archives are concerned with maintaining the integrity of their company, and are therefore selective of how their materials may be used.[24]

Government