In the course of daily life, individuals, organizations and governments create and keep information about
their activities. Archivists are professionals who assess, collect, organize, preserve and provide access to the portions of this information that have lasting value. Archivists keep records that have enduring value as reliable memories of the past, and they help people find and understand the information they need in those records.
These records and the places in which they are kept, are called “archives.” Archival records take many forms, including correspondence, diaries, financial and legal document, photographs, video or sound recordings and electronic records.
“Archivists bring the past to the present. They’re records collectors and protectors, keepers of memory. They organize unique, historical materials, making them available for current and future research.”
Archives serve to strengthen collective memory by creating a reliable information bank that provides access to an irreplaceable asset — an organization’s government’s or society’s primary sources. Archival records are essential to support society’s increasing demand for accountability and transparency in government and public and private institutions. Archival records protect the rights, property and identity of our citizens. Archivists play a key role in ensuring that the digital records being created today will be accessible when needed in the future.
American Archives Month is a time to focus on the importance of records of enduring value and to enhance public recognition for the people and programs that are responsible for maintaining our communities’ vital historical records.
Written by Lisa Lewis and Jaquelyn Ferry