The Management of Archives

The Management of Archives

The Management of Archives

The Management of Archives

Excerpt

While teaching courses in archival principles and techniques at the National Archives and during summer sessions at the American University, the University of Texas, and the University of Washington, I became aware of the gaps in the literature and in the documental knowledge of the archival profession. I therefore attempted to define the principles and techniques of arranging and describing documentary material. In this attempt I proceeded on the assumption that the principles and techniques now applied to public records may be applied also, with some modification, to private records, especially to private manuscript material of recent origin, much of which has the organic character of archival material.

In my definition of archival principles and techniques I took into account the distinctive characteristics of documentary material. These characteristics differ from those of library material; for this reason, archival arrangement and description differ from library classification and cataloging.

I believe archival principles and techniques should be systematized and, to a very large extent, standardized, if work with records, whether public or private, is to become truly professional. While contributions to developing principles and techniques can be made individually, standardization can come only through collaborative effort. Once archival methodology has been clearly and fully defined, it can be taught effectively in training courses. The places in which such courses can be given most systematically, in my opinion, are library schools, which are concerned with methodological training. Systematic training is likely to bring about a standardization of method.

The principles and techniques I discuss relate to the arrangement and description of records for research use, not current use. They are thus archival, rather than record management, princi-

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