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An archive is a collection of historical records, or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source
Primary source
Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied....

 documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of an organization.

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 Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

s or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that archives (the places) are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.

A person who works in archives is called an archivist
Archivist
An archivist is a professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to information determined to have long-term value. The information maintained by an archivist can be any form of media...

. The study and practice of organizing, preserving, and providing access to information and materials in archives is called archival science
Archival science
Archival science is the theory and study of storing, cataloguing, and retrieving documents and items. Archival science evolved from mankind's need to classify the world around them...

.

When referring to historical records or the places they are kept, the plural form archives is chiefly used. Archivists tend to prefer the term "archives" (with an S) as the correct terminology to serve as both the singular and plural, since "archive," as a noun or a verb, has acquired meanings related to computer science.

Etymology


First attested in English in early 17th century, the word archive (icon) is derived from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 archives (plural), in turn from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 archīum or archīvum, which is the romanized
Romanization
In linguistics, romanization or latinization is the representation of a written word or spoken speech with the Roman script, or a system for doing so, where the original word or language uses a different writing system . Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written...

 form of the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 ἀρχεῖον (arkheion), "public records, town-hall, residence or office of chief magistrates", itself from ἀρχή (arkhē), amongst others "magistracy, office, government" (compare an-archy, mon-archy), which comes from the verb ἄρχω (arkhō), "to begin, rule, govern".

The word originally developed from the Greek (arkheion) which refers to the home or dwelling of the Archon
Archon
Archon is a Greek word that means "ruler" or "lord", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem ἀρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch, hierarchy, and anarchy.- Ancient Greece :In ancient Greece the...

, in which important official state documents were filed and interpreted under the authority of the Archon. The adjective formed from archive is archival.

History


Archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks, and ancient Romans. Modern archival thinking has many roots in the French Revolution. The French National Archives, who possess perhaps the largest archival collection in the world, with records going as far back as A.D. 625, were created in 1790 during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 from various government, religious, and private archives seized by the revolutionaries.

Users and institutions


Historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

s, genealogists, lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s, demographers, filmmakers, and others conduct research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 at archives. The research process at each archive is unique, and depends upon the institution in which the archive is housed. While there are many different kinds of archives, the most recent census of archivists in the United States identified five major types: academic, business (for profit), government, non-profit, and other. 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



Archives in college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

s, universities, and other educational facilities are typically housed within a library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

, and duties may be carried out by an archivist
Archivist
An archivist is a professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to information determined to have long-term value. The information maintained by an archivist can be any form of media...

 or a librarian
Librarian
A librarian is an information professional trained in library and information science, which is the organization and management of information services or materials for those with information needs...

. Occasionally, history professors may also run a smaller archive. Academic archives exist to preserve and celebrate the history of their school and academic community. An academic archive may contain items such as the administrative records of the institution, 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
Thesis
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...

 copies. Access to the collections in these archives is usually by prior appointment only; some have posted hours for making enquiries. 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. Because of their library setting, a degree certified by the American Library Association
American Library Association
The American Library Association is a non-profit organization based in the United States that promotes libraries and library education internationally. It is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 62,000 members....

 is preferred for employment in an academic archive in the United States.

Business (for profit)


Archives located in for-profit institutions are usually those owned by a private business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

. Examples of prominent business archives in the United States include Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines in more than 200 countries. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke...

 (which also owns the separate museum World of Coca-Cola
World of Coca-Cola
The World of Coca-Cola is a permanent exhibition featuring the history of The Coca-Cola Company and its well-known advertising as well as a host of entertainment areas and attractions...

), Procter and Gamble, Motorola
Motorola
Motorola, Inc. was an American multinational telecommunications company based in Schaumburg, Illinois, which was eventually divided into two independent public companies, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions on January 4, 2011, after losing $4.3 billion from 2007 to 2009...

 Heritage Services and Archives, and Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. is a privately held American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. It was founded in 1853 when Levi Strauss came from Buttenheim, Franconia, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers' New York dry goods business...

  These corporate archives maintain historic documents and items related to the history and administration of their companies. Business archives serve the purpose of helping their corporations maintain control over their brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

 by retaining memories of the company's past. Especially in business archives, records management
Records management
Records management, or RM, is the practice of maintaining the records of an organization from the time they are created up to their eventual disposal...

 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, although some will allow approved visitors by appointment. Business archives are concerned with maintaining the integrity
Integrity
Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions...

 of their company, and are therefore selective of how their materials may be used.

Government



Government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 archives include those maintained by local and state government as well as those maintained by the national (or federal) government. Anyone may use a government archive, and frequent users include reporters, genealogists, writers, historians, students, and people seeking information on the history of their home or region. Many government archives are open to the public and no appointment is required to visit.

In the United States, National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

 (NARA) maintains central archival facilities in the District of Columbia and College Park, Maryland
College Park, Maryland
College Park is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland, USA. The population was 30,413 at the 2010 census. It is best known as the home of the University of Maryland, College Park, and since 1994 the city has also been home to the "Archives II" facility of the U.S...

, with regional facilities distributed throughout the United States. Some city or local governments may have repositories, but their organization and accessibility varies widely. State
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 or province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

 archives typically require at least a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in history for employment, although some ask for certification by test (government or association) as well.

In the UK the National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk, formerly known as the Public Record Office, is the government archive for England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. The National Monuments Record is the public archive of English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

. The National Archives of Scotland
National Archives of Scotland
Based in Edinburgh, the National Archives of Scotland are the national archives of Scotland. The NAS claims to have one of the most varied collection of archives in Europe...

 http://www.nas.gov.uk, located in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, serve that country while the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is situated in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is a division within the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure ....

 http://www.proni.gov.uk/ in Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

 is the government archive for Northern Ireland.

A network of local authority-run record offices and archives exists throughout England, Wales and Scotland and holds many important collections, including local government, landed estates, church and business records. Many archives have contributed catalogues to the national Access 2 Archives http://www.a2a.org.uk/ programme and online searching across collections is possible.

In France, the French Archives Administration (Service interministériel des Archives de France) in the Ministry of Culture
Minister of Culture (France)
The Minister of Culture is, in the Government of France, the cabinet member in charge of national museums and monuments; promoting and protecting the arts in France and abroad; and managing the national archives and regional "maisons de culture"...

 manages the National Archives
Archives nationales (France)
The Archives nationales preserve the national archives of the French state, apart from the archives of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as these two ministries have their own archive services, the Service historique de la défense and the Archives diplomatiques...

 (Archives nationales) which possess 406 km. (252 miles) of archives as of 2010 (the total length of occupied shelves put next to each other), with original records going as far back as A.D. 625, as well as the departmental archives (archives départementales), located in the préfectures of each of the 100 départements of France, which possess 2,297 km. (1,427 miles) of archives (as of 2010), and also the local city archives, about 600 in total, which possess 456 km. (283,4 miles) of archives (as of 2010). Put together, the total volume of archives under the supervision of the French Archives Administration is the largest in the world.

In India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 the National Archives are located in New Delhi.

In Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 the National Archives Administration http://www.archives.gov.tw/English are located in Taipei
Taipei
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...

.

Most intergovernmental organisations keep their own historical archives. However, a number of European organisations, including the European Commission, choose to deposit their archives with the European University Institute in Florence.

Church


A prominent Church Archives is the Vatican Secret Archive.
Archdioceses, diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

s and parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es also have archives in the Roman Catholic and Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Churches. The records in these archives include manuscripts, papal records, local Church records, photographs, oral histories, audiovisual materials, and architectural drawings.

Most Protestant denominations have archives as well, including the Presbyterian U.S.A Historical Society, The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, the United Methodist Archives and History Center of the United Methodist Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Films


Non-profit


Non-profit archives include those in historical societies, not-for-profit businesses such as hospitals, and the repositories within foundations
Foundation (charity)
A foundation is a legal categorization of nonprofit organizations that will typically either donate funds and support to other organizations, or provide the source of funding for its own charitable purposes....

. Non-profit archives are typically set up with private funds from donors to preserve the papers and history of specific persons or places. Often these institutions rely on grant
Grant (money)
Grants are funds disbursed by one party , often a Government Department, Corporation, Foundation or Trust, to a recipient, often a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or an individual. In order to receive a grant, some form of "Grant Writing" often referred to as either a proposal...

 funding from the government as well as the private funds. Depending on the funds available, non-profit archives may be as small as the historical society in a rural town to as big as a state historical society that rivals a government archives. Users of this type of archive may vary as much as the institutions that hold them. Employees of non-profit archives may be professional archivists, para-professionals, or volunteers, as the education required for a position at a non-profit archive varies with the demands of the collection's user base.

Web archiving


The process of collecting data from the World Wide Web and preserving it in an archive, such as an archive site, for the web user to see. See Website Archiving
Web archiving
Web archiving is the process of collecting portions of the World Wide Web and ensuring the collection is preserved in an archive, such as an archive site, for future researchers, historians, and the public. Due to the massive size of the Web, web archivists typically employ web crawlers for...

. Examples of web archives:
  • Side bars
  • Blogs
  • Calendar
  • Tag cloud
  • News websites

Other


Some archives defy categorization. There are tribal archives within the Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 nations in North America, and there are archives that exist within the papers of private individuals. Many museums keep archives in order to prove the provenance
Provenance
Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object. The term was originally mostly used for works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing...

 of their pieces. Any institution or persons wishing to keep their significant papers in an organized fashion that employs the most basic principles of archival science
Archival science
Archival science is the theory and study of storing, cataloguing, and retrieving documents and items. Archival science evolved from mankind's need to classify the world around them...

 may have an archive. In the 2004 census of archivists taken in the United States, 2.7% of archivists were employed in institutions that defied categorization. This was a separate figure from the 1.3% that identified themselves as self-employed.

Another type of archive is public secrets http://publicsecret.net. This is an interactive testimonial in which women incarcerated in the California State Prison System reveal their stories about what happened to them. The function of the archive is to unfold the stories of the women who want to express themselves and want their stories to be heard. This collection of stories includes the women's direct speeches and also a recording of the women saying their speech.

The archives of an individual may include letters, papers, photographs, computer files, scrapbooks, financial records or diaries created or collected by the individual – regardless of media or format. The archives of an organization (such as a corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 or government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

) tend to contain other types of records, such as administrative files, business records, memos, official correspondence and meeting minutes.

Standardization


The International Council on Archives
International Council on Archives
The International Council on Archives is an international non-governmental organization which exists to promote international cooperation in archiving. It was set up in 1948, with Charles Samaran, the then director of the Archives de France, as chairman. It is open to membership of national and...

 (ICA) has developed a number of standards on archival description including the General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G). ISAD(G) is meant to be used in conjunction with national standards or as a basis for nations to build their own standards. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, ISAD(G) is implemented through Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Describing Archives: A Content Standard is a set of rules for describing archives, personal papers, and manuscript collections. The descriptive standard can be utilized for all types of archival material...

, popularly known as "DACS". In Canada, ISAD(G) is implemented through Rules for Archival Description, also known as "RAD".

ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

 is currently working on standards.

See also

  • Archival informatics
    Archival informatics
    Archival informatics refers to the theory and application of informatics in and around the realm of archives and record keeping. More specifically, it refers to the proper understanding and use of emerging technologies, techniques, and theories such as linguistic analysis, heuristics, and...

  • Archival research
    Archival research
    -Basic Definition:An archive is a way of sorting and organizing older documents, whether it be digitally or manually . Archiving is one part of the curating process which is typically carried out by a curator...

  • Archival science
    Archival science
    Archival science is the theory and study of storing, cataloguing, and retrieving documents and items. Archival science evolved from mankind's need to classify the world around them...

  • Archive Fever
    Archive Fever
    Mal d'Archive: Une Impression Freudienne is a book by philosopher Jacques Derrida first published in 1995 by Éditions Galilée. An English translation, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Eric Prenowitz, was published in 1996....

     (book by Jacques Derrida
    Jacques Derrida
    Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

    )
  • Archivist
    Archivist
    An archivist is a professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to information determined to have long-term value. The information maintained by an archivist can be any form of media...

  • BS 5454
    BS 5454
    BS 5454, "Recommendations for the storage and exhibition of archival documents" is a British Standard for the preservation of archival material. Among other things, it specifies temperature and humidity ranges for document storage, shelving schemes, and materials for document containers.- External...

  • Collection (museum)
    Collection (museum)
    A museum is distinguished by a collection of often unique objects that forms the core of its activities for exhibitions, education, research, etc. This differentiates it from an archive or library, where the contents may be more paper-based, replaceable and less exhibition oriented...

  • Computer data storage
  • Data proliferation
    Data proliferation
    Data proliferation refers to the prodigious amount of data, structured and unstructured, that businesses and governments continue to generate at an unprecedented rate and the usability problems that result from attempting to store and manage that data...

  • Digital preservation
    Digital preservation
    Digital preservation is the set of processes, activities and management of digital information over time to ensure its long term accessibility. The goal of digital preservation is to preserve materials resulting from digital reformatting, and particularly information that is born-digital with no...

  • Discovered text (archaeology)
    Discovered text (archaeology)
    Discovered texts are texts before the discovery of which their existences were forgotten or not widely known.- 18th Century :*Rosetta Stone...

  • Greenstone (software)
  • Information repository
    Information repository
    An information repository is an easy way to deploy a secondary tier of data storage that can comprise multiple, networked data storage technologies running on diverse operating systems, where data that no longer needs to be in primary storage is protected, classified according to captured metadata,...

  • Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

  • International Council on Archives
    International Council on Archives
    The International Council on Archives is an international non-governmental organization which exists to promote international cooperation in archiving. It was set up in 1948, with Charles Samaran, the then director of the Archives de France, as chairman. It is open to membership of national and...

  • List of archives
  • Manuscript processing
  • Preservation (library and archival science)
    Preservation (library and archival science)
    Preservation is a branch of library and information science concerned with maintaining or restoring access to artifacts, documents and records through the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of decay and damage....

  • Web archiving
    Web archiving
    Web archiving is the process of collecting portions of the World Wide Web and ensuring the collection is preserved in an archive, such as an archive site, for future researchers, historians, and the public. Due to the massive size of the Web, web archivists typically employ web crawlers for...

  • Database
    Database
    A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...


External links