They can be any age – yesterday’s committee minutes are part of the archive of the local council, as much as a medieval title deed which is part of the archive of a landed estate. They can also be in any form. They may be on parchment, or handwritten on paper, but they can be typewritten papers or files of documents, ring-binders or volumes; they may be photographs, maps, sound recordings, films, computer floppy disks, CDs, electronic databases, digital images ……

Archives – a formal definition
There are a number of formal definitions of archives, but this is a good summary:

‘Records are documents in any format which are created by an individual or organisation in the course of conducting their business. Records with long-term value and usefulness are selected for permanent preservation and become archives, acting as the corporate memory of institutions and businesses and, for some, a testament of individual experience.’

Archives help to tell the story of our past and to preserve our collective memory and cultural identity.

Next: Using Archives