Modern Archives – Schellenberg
Importance of Archival Institutions
Archives got their start in Athens, Greece in the 4th or 5th century BC. They kept their valuable documents in the temple of the mother of the Gods.
1st national Archives – France September 12, 1790. During the French Revolution, national records were gathered up into the Archives and displayed for the public to see. Many argued for the destruction of the older records because they documented the privileges of the upper class, but it was argued that these record treasures were now public property and should be preserved where the public can have access to them to protect their rights. June 25, 1794 a decree established a nation wide public archives administration, and also decreed the right of public access to the records.
The records of the old society were kept for cultural resources and the new records were kept for protection of public rights. The recognition of the importance of records to society was a gain from the French revolution and established an independent national archives, the principle of public access to archives and the responsibility of the state to care for records.
August 14, 1838 the Public Record Office the central archive for England was established. England’s public records were so scattered and uncared for (totally falling apart) that Parliament looked into the matter passing the Public Record Act in 1838, creating the Public Records Office – a separate office (not subordinate to a ministry like in France) that was concerned only with the records of the central government.
The United States established the National Archives by act on June 19, 1934.
Reasons for archival establishments 1) to improve government efficiency by gathering records to a central location where they can be accessed rather than being shoved into a corner 2) cultural resource 3) personal interest – the French revolutionaries became aware of the importance of public records in defining various social, economic and political relationships 4) records are needed by a government for its work. They are the foundation upon which the governmental structure is built.
Nature of Archives Records that are created in the process of accomplishing definite administrative, legal, business or other social end are of potential archival quality.
To be an archives, materials must be preserved for reasons other than those for which they were created, ex. cultural significance.
Modern archivist’s concern with records 1) Records from a given agency are kept together as records of that agency 2) Keep the records (as far as possible) in the arrangement given them in the agency in the course of its official business 3) Such records should be kept in their entirety without mutilation, alteration or unauthorized destruction of portions of them
Archives – those records of any public or private institution which are adjudged worthy of permanent preservation for reference and research purposes and which have been deposited or have been selected for deposit in an archival institution.
Library Relationships Differences between Library and Archives material 1) they way they came into being 2) the way they came into the institution’s custody
Library – items are produced for cultural reasons and they are generally treated individually – they do not have to be interpreted in relation to other items like in archives.
Historical manuscripts – are usually the product of a spontaneous expression of thought or feeling whenever textual records that might otherwise be classed as historical manuscripts are created in consequence of organized activity – church, business, individual – they may be referred to as archives. Moreover when historical manuscripts become a part of the documentation of an organized activity – love letters used in a divorce proceeding – they may also be considered archives
How material is collected 1) Archives – receiving institution should collect within its mission and charter 2) Library – collecting institution – may obtain from anywhere if they restrict their acquisitions to a subject they can still obtain materials from anywhere unlike an institutional archive which can only collect from the parent institution
Difference in method 1) Archivist – judges the value of an item in relation to the whole collection. Selects records in quantity and in relation to function and organization rather than subject in an effort to preserve evidence on how organic bodies functioned. His judgments are final and irrevocable because once documents are destroyed you cant get them back (unique records) 2) Librarian – judged single items but not unique ones. Judgments involve merely questions of convenience, not of preservation or total loss.
Arrangement 1) Archives – provenance and original order 2) Library - pre determined classification system
Archival Interests in Record Management Essentials of Record Management Nature of modern records – with the increase in population and business, record production has increased exponentially. Also the complexity of the records has increased various forms, repository locations and filing systems add to the complexity of caring for records.
Nature of activities – the objectives in managing public records are to make the records serve the purposes for which they were created as cheaply and effectively as possible and to make a proper disposition of them after they have served their purposes. The most important aspect of record management relates to the use of records for the conduct of government operations.
The most valuable records deal with the origins of an organization, organizational and functional development and the major programs of an agency. They relate to the direction rather than execution of government functions. They are usually incomplete or sketch documentation (think telephone conversations or emails that conduct important business but aren’t recorded).
Policy records are difficult to retire because you many always use them even when the policy has been superceded. However records showing execution of policies become noncurrent when all likely actions in the particular case have been taken.
Nature of organization
Records management staff should be attached to a government agency that has jurisdiction in certain matters over all agencies of the government so the record management policies will cover all branches and offices of the government. The regulatory power of the agency is usually spelled out in the government or law (i.e. can they just supervise or can the tell people what to keep and when to turn it over).
A centralized staff should be empowered to: 1) require agencies to develop disposition plans for records and submit them to the archives for review 2) require agencies to report on the disposition of their records and submit for review all requests for space and other facilities designed for record purposes 3) control use of duplication equipment in the government to pool them for use by any agency needing them.
Record production may be reduced by simplifying: 1) The functions – periodic review and restructuring of the operations and methods of an institution 2) The work process – watch work flow methods and streamline the process when possible 3) The record procedures of government agencies – standardize and simplify paperwork, use of forms with periodic review of form layout to streamline and simplify the process
In order to find records as quickly as possible you must properly classify the record and properly file it.
Group them in relation to their use.
Elements of classification 1) Action to which records relate – functions, activities and transactions A) Substantive activities – those relating to the technical and professional work of the agency, work that distinguishes it from all other agencies B) Facilitative Activities – those relating to the internal management of the agency “housekeeping” etc Two main types of transactions 1) Policy – determine the course of action that are to be followed in all transactions of a single class, may govern entire agency or part 2) Operational – Specific individual transactions that are taken in line with policy decisions
2) Organization of the agency that creates them – frequently corresponds to function
A) Staff – concerned with broad questions of policy B) Line offices – do the actual work
3) Subject matter
1) Functional – separate file units for all transactions. However if the records refer to a class of persons (not just one) the class rather than the persons becomes the basis of grouping files. Or if it relates to a topic involving many people use topic as basis of grouping whenever possible separate files should be kept for records on important policies, opinions, decisions etc. If you can not separate important records from the routine they should be noted in the index. File unites should be grouped by activity ex personnel, fiscal, supply etc, then you can group the activity by function and divide those into classes – primary functions and sub classes - activities 2) Organization classification – only for organizations that are stable with a well defined organization 3) Subject – used when records did not arise from or entail positive government action. Reference and info file use subject headings developed for those files
Classification principles Keep systems current and periodically review them to be sure they reflect current organization of the parent organization.
Registry systems Cuneiform tablets had a registry system with guide marks notched on the side for locating the correct tablet.
Early registries started with the Romans and were continued by the church. They kept records in two series, outgoing and incoming records. Records filed in the order that they were received. In a registry system documents are generally stored on shelves.
Developing systems In Europe registry offices developed solely to preserve and service current records.
Ideal features of a registry system: 1) It should be planned in relation to the functions and activities of the department 2) It should, as far as possible, reflect the organization of the department 3) Groups of records relating to specific activities should be segregated from the main body of registry records if their bulk and characteristics warrant it 4) Varying levels of value should be distinguished in the subject outline and the archivist should be consulted when the outlines are being drawn up to ensure satisfactory disposal provisions 5) Documents of purely ephemeral value should be not registered in the first place
American filing systems Do not use registers
Registry system – files filed numerically. The American modern filing system can be filed alphabetical by name place or subject or in accordance with a subject classification scheme, as well as numerically. Records are controlled while in use by the way they are arranged not by register. American records are decentralized to the point that registries are unnecessary.
Origins of systems Origins in the British government – early filing systems had three main series 1) inward letters 2) outward letters 3) miscellaneous papers
Inward letters were numbered in order of receipt and bundled. Outward letters were copied into a book and miscellaneous papers were filed in several series
The government kept this system for a long time. The war department developed a special series for their activities (food, weapons etc) and eventually developed forms for some of their more routine duties
Development of modern systems Before the new system could develop they had to have a means to duplicate records (outgoing correspondence) and supplies developed to file records.
Duplication 1) Press copying machine – 1st one in 1780 developed by James Watt. He used glutinous ink and pressed a written page against a moistened sheet of thin paper. Washington and Jefferson used it and it was first used by the state department. The machine came into general use in the war department in the Civil War especially after more permanent inks were developed. It was used until 1912 when the government switched to the typewriter. 2) Typewriter – first used by the government in 1874. Early carbon paper was bad but in 1905 Brazilian carnauba wax stabilized carbon inks and in 1910 Taft recommended discontinuation of press copies in favor of carbon copies 3) Mechanical devices – mimeograph, hectograph 4) Photostat and electronic devises
Filing equipment – early insertion and expansion are key to this equipment. The first letters were folded and tied into bundles and put on shelves 1) File holder – invented by E W Woodruff. A wooden box 3 ½ “ wide and 8” high, folded documents could be placed inside in a sequential order. 2) Vertical files – first produced in 1868 by Amberg File & Index Co. In 1893 Dr. Rosseneau invented the vertical file to hold case files. The file was shown at the worlds fair and adopted by the Library Bureau. In 1912 the Taft commission recommended discontinuing folding of documents and that files should be stored flat in vertical files, basically discontinuing the registry system.
Types of modern filing systems: 1) Numerical – even though the registry system is gone you can still number files and file them successively and index them by names of writers and occasionally by subject. It can complicate files by breaking up letters from correspondents. Good for case files though. 2) Alphabetical system – Fred C Ainsworth was the first person who applied it to the forms he developed for the war department. He developed an index card system to file a soldier’s medical history in one place despite the number of times he was hospitalized. Eventually this system was adopted by the government and revolutionized how service records were kept. Can also be used in a subject filing 3) Classified systems – attempts to bring all records into a logical order (origins in the Dewey Decimal System). The Taft commission recommended filing papers in a logical system based on broad subject classifications (Dewey) this system is not practical for government papers.
Choosing systems Keep it simple, flexible and expansible
Disposition practices Types of descriptions – Public records: 1) Substantive – described in relation to organizational units of the agency that created them, the functions, activities and transactions that resulted in their creation and the subjects they cover 2) Physical – described in relation to classification scheme they are filed in, file units into which they are grouped or documentary types of which they consist
If records are filed properly it will be easy to determine the disposition of records, if they are in a jumbled mess it is very hard.
Recurrent records – repetitive records recording normal repetitive business activities usually forms (ex payroll or monthly bills)
Disposition documents Disposal list – list that shows documents and the proposed disposition method and date
Disposal schedule – schedule that identifies records that should be disposed of at regular intervals (usually recurrent records)
Disposition plan – identifies all records in an institution and shows the disposition method and times. Provides a basis of understanding between the archivist and agency on how to handle and dispose of the agency’s records. Also identifies documents to be saved for archives. This document should serve both the archivist and the agency and be comprehensive.
Plan contents – background information on the agency, organized under functional headings. Show the relations of records to the agency and policy and each other. Show valuable records that should be kept and describe them. Disposal records are described in general terms, if you are using a sampling technique explain how to sample records.
Disposal schedules – in the US disposal lists were made for Congress to review and eventually reviewed by the Librarian of Congress. Eventually the national archives produced a report of records of no value to be disposed of.
Disposal schedules should be designed to accomplish the single but important objective of obtaining authorization to destroy recurrent types of records. It should relate to records that will be made in the future (recurrent). If you use unique records in your schedule it becomes obsolete when the records are destroyed and you must make a new schedule. The schedule should describe records so they can be identified for disposal and prepared in relation to major functions (more stable) rather than organizational structure (changing).
Disposal lists – describe a single instance of disposal and not to be used past that disposal. Records should be described by – functions, activities or subjects to which they pertain and their physical type (correspondence) and the physical characteristic by which they can be identified.
Disposition Actions 1) Destruction – identify records carefully before destroying the, organize records so you can identify records for destruction. The decision to destroy is irrevocable and should be agreed upon by record users (producing agency) and archivist (historical value) 2) Microfilming – reduces bulk and ensures permanency. Records must have value equal to the cost of the microfilming, they should be organized, or you must index them, each record should have stand alone value, and should be filmed with high quality so it can be a substitute for the original. 3) Transfer to record center – Centers can 1) accommodate certain types of records that accumulate regularly in the government and must be held for long periods of time 2) can accumulate special accumulations of records from defunct agencies or activities 3) serve as places for the concentration of records at the inception of a records management or archival program 4) Transfer to archives – must have value, be noncurrent and should be well organized and have all indexes with them. Have all valueless records stripped (if possible) and be as complete as possible and be relatively unrestricted so access for research is possible.
Essential conditions of archival management
Nature of modern archives Created by many entities – doing many activities so it is often difficult to determine the origins of records, they have different arrangement methods, are unique in character are selected materials and are valuable records.
Archives can be source material in establishing various rights, privileges, duties and immunities that are derived from or connected to a citizen’s relationship with the government.
Nature of archives Archivist must both preserve records and make them available.
Archivist’s duties; 1) Disposition activities – appraising records for disposal or transfer to archives, reappraisal – sending limited value records to records centers and destroying records of no value 2) Preservation & arrangement – packing, labeling and shelving records, rearranging and consolidating records, selecting records for repair or reproduction for preservation 3) Description & publication – analyzing and describing records for use, preparing descriptive inventories, guides, catalogs and other finding aids, selecting and editing records for microfilm publication 4) Reference service – furnishing information about records, finding and lending records to agencies or available in research room, making records available in exhibit and authenticating reproductions of accessioned materials.
Nature of authority Archives must be either independent or be subordinate to an agency that can deal independently with all branches of a government and must be situated high enough up the food chain to deal effectively with the branches. It should be a distinct and separate entity if subordinate to another agency.
Nature of Organization Stuff arranged on a subject matter or research inquiry basis not functional
France – post revolution established four appraisal classes 1) Useful papers 2) Historical papers 3) Feudal titles 4) Useless papers The last two were destined for destruction. Eventually the government passed an act with rigid rules for destroying and appraising public records
Germany: originally destroyed oldest papers from the registry, but they began keeping them. They decided it was OK to weed useless papers from important ones in the registry without destroying organic nature and arrangement of the papers
England: official views on appraisal came in 1947 in answer to a wartime request to save paper. They issued a pamphlet with guidelines for business papers. The business should decide if their papers were archival and they should: 1) show the history of the organization concerned 2) answer technical questions regarding its operations 3) meet research needs for information that is incidentally or accidentally contained in the records.
Record value: 1) Evidential – importance of information in record to the organization and functioning of the agency that produced it. Records are necessary to provide an authentic and adequate documentation of its organization and functioning 2) Informational – research value
Evidential records should be preserved regardless of whether there is an immediate or even foreseeable use for them.
Evidential records show: 1) Significant facts on how the agency was created 2) How it was developed 3) How it is organized 4) What functions it performs 5) What are the consequences of its activities
To determine evidential value you must know the history, functions and organization of the agency that created the records. You must also judge them as a whole.
1) Determine the position of an office in the hierarchy of the agency – the closer the office to administration the more likely their records deal with upper level policy and structure decisions 2) Know the character of the functions preformed by each office – substantive functions should be documented extensively 3) The character of the activities carried on under the given function by each office in the administrative hierarchy – the higher up the chain the more unique and important the records.
Record types 1) Policy records – no rigid distinction can be made between policy and administration because administration activities often result in policy. Records that evidence significant activities of either type may have permanent value. Keep policies relating to substantive functions and to the more important management or facilitative activities of the agency. In general policies relating to organization, the plans, the methods and techniques and the rules and procedures used to carry out its functions a. Organizational documents – those relating to organization or reorganization, budget and budget planning, interpretation of law, organizational and functional charts, directories, papers defining responsibilities or showing relationships with other agencies, staff studies and special reports on organizational problems. b. Procedural documents – procedure manuals, directives, rules and regulations, circulars, instructions, memos that establish a course of action (include superceded documents too) staff studies and work load analysis and performance reviews, master set of all forms used in operation. c. Reportorial documents – annual reports or periodic progress reports, transcripts of hearings and meeting minutes 2) Operating records – preserve examples of operating records in exemplary form to show how policies were carried out and problems encountered. Take a sampling of these records from various activities and various field offices to show general impact of policies. 3) Housekeeping records – again keep a representation to show activities. Keep personnel records and any records that deviate from the norm 4) Publications and publicity records – publications produced in the performance of substantive functions should, as a rule, be preserved in libraries, ex bulletins, pamphlets and circulars produced by agencies involved in scientific, statistical or research activities. Publications necessary to the basic understanding of an organization are archival. Also drafts and successive forms of these publications. If publications are identified amongst agency papers that are not directly related to the agency’s functioning they should be removed if there is no significant loss of significant interrelations. Preserve – informational and promotional publications (try to get master), press clippings are kept to record informational activities or substantive functions if no other documentation exists and they are readily accessible, smaller papers get preference over widespread ones.
Informational values – derive from the information in public records on person, place and subjects in records and not records on the public agencies themselves. Not concerned with the source or activities that resulted in creation only with the information. Appraisal can be done piecemeal but with knowledge of research resources, needs and methods. Records on a phenomena must be appraised in relation to all other records mentioning that phenomena, judged on historical value and often records of a certain age (in use pre 1861) are automatically kept and records pertaining to historical personages, episodes and events.
Historical significance – three main elements 1) The amount and character of the information contained in them 2) Convenience of the arrangement 3) The degree to which their textual substance is concentrated
Records relating to persons – records that establish the facts of their existence, identify and marital status, citizenship – naturalization records, passenger lists, census schedules, homestead and passport applications, pension applications, personnel records , property – titles to real property once owned by the state, government or military service etc
Scholarly uses – refer to people as an aggregate I e migrant workers, Indians etc. You can either keep records that have information on many people or a selective “representative” number of individual case files plus case files on significant people.
Records relating to corporate bodies – decide if you can get the information from published sources or from other similar records. If they are unique you can save all or a sampling of them.
Records relating to places – preserved if they have general or purely local or antiquarian interest
In the initial stages of a program all other activities should be subordinated to the important matter of placing the records beyond all possible danger of destruction.
Early inks – India ink, nutgall ink and sepia ink as well as early rag paper (cotton, flax, hemp) were strong and durable.
Principals of arrangement Archival principals of arrangements relate first to the ordering of groups of records in relation to each other and secondly to the ordering of individual items within the groups.
Development of principals in Europe
France: originally arranged records according to a predetermined scheme like libraries, but eventually developed a new system in 1841 1) Records were to be grouped into fonds (all records which originated with any particular institution) ex corporate body or family. These records would be grouped together and be considered the fonds of that group. 2) All fonds were arranged by subject matter and be assigned a definite place in relation to other groups 3) Items with in groups would be arranged according to circumstance Items of greatest importance are filed before other items and general information before specific. Basically arrange information in a way to answer questions quickly and efficiently.
Prussia: took France’s respect des fondes and expanded it. Public records should be grouped according to the administrative units that created them and the arrangement give the records by the creating agency should be preserved by the archives
Provenance – first suggested by Heinrich von Sybel in 1881. Provenance allowed papers to be filed by department within the agency rather than by subject like in France.
Netherlands – adopted provenance and in 1898 archivists Muller, Feith and Fruin wrote an instruction manual which became an archival “bible”. “The system of arrangement should be based upon the original order of the registry which in its essentials reflects the organization of the administrative body the produced it.”
England – Sir Hilary Jenkinson – wrote the Manual of Archive Administration which describes England’s system
America – Dr. Waldo G Leland at the 1909 American History Association recommended adopting provenance
In 1914 Ethel B Virtue wrote an article on archives classification using provenance. The article became a chapter in an archival primer and in 1934 with the establishment of the National Archives; provenance was used for the first time on a large body of records.
Record group = fonds
The American system is different from the European one – they could not establish a static set of record groups because they were dealing with dynamic records and a changing government. They could establish traditional record groups for defunct agencies but for the active ones they established record groups for the administrative units of varying status and authority in the government. Record groups are also different from fonds because they are not collective record groups.
American record groups are documents produced by an administrative unit at the bureau level of government; then sub groups according to organizational and functional origins, then series by arrangement, subject matter of functional affinity and then file units.
Records are arranged either organizationally (original order) or functionally.
Record groups should be maintained (and not intermingled) in one area except for those items needing special storage or care.
Series – in Europe it means file units in a registry that contains documents of a particular type in American a series may apply to the aggregations of documents of a particular type and also applied to the entire body of records organized according to an integrated filing system, whether they are of the same type or not.
Conclusions If papers have been rearranged by the creating agency after their usefulness was done, you do not have to keep this arrangement unless it is helpful. You can reestablish original “working” order or rearrange it completely.
If the records are being kept solely for informational value then arrange them in the way that best facilitates research.
Description Practices Archives are generally described in terms of their authorship (creator), type (correspondence, schedules), title (short ID of function, activity or subject) and structure (bound volume, bundle), regardless of whether the units being described are large or small.
The greatest difference in finding aids in Europe and the US is in describing type. Europe describes the folder or bundle and US describes the series.
Descriptions according to provenance
Record group registration statements provide essential information on the record group used to provide quick reference to a record group with a short general narrative discussing holdings
Preliminary inventories – covers entire record group and used to give preliminary control over records. Describes records, type, subject arrangement and then describes records at series level.
Detailed or special lists –
Descriptions according to pertinence (subject) can be very difficult and time consuming. Generally you make a card catalog but only if it is worth the time research wise.
Publication programs With publications of finding aids and other books from archives showing off holdings critical research based history took off.
Responsibilities for publication Forms of publication Criteria for publication 1) Make a selection of records that are suitable for publication 2) Determine the form in which to publish them 3) Determine whether the documents are to be published in full text or abstract form
Reference service Policies governing access 1) Set up restrictions on collection with donor at the time of donation (try to set a time limit) 2) Clearly state restrictions on finding aid and on a paper inside the box
Reasons to deny access beyond restrictions 1) Military information that affects the present and future security of the nation but not documents of military history 2) Records pertaining to conduct of foreign affairs in current time 3) Records containing confidential business and financial information 4) Records containing personal information
Policies concerning use An archivist should attempt to make his materials available to the fullest extent that is consistent with a reasonable regard for their preservation.
If priorities are established in servicing records, they should be established on the basis of the character of the service requests not the source
Search room use – requirements from researchers 1) Establish identity 2) Acknowledge in writing the receipt of archives delivered to them in order to ensure an accountability for them 3) Familiarize themselves with the search room rules
Loan – all general rules apply – no fragile documents, no private loans