It has fallen upon me to start the archives at my church, school, civic organization, etc. How do I preserve and provide online access to important historic material ?


Creating and sustaining an archive involves some questions to be answered. The main items to think about for an archive are the following (they are not in any specific order)
  1. Scope of Project/Collection Development Policy. What is the aim of the archive, what will you be collecting? Is it just material relating to the school or are you aiming for a larger narrative of Beaufort County? Additionally, what type of materials are you collecting (e.g. paper, photos, artifacts, digital records, etc.)?
  2. Paperwork. Once you start collecting, have paperwork for the donors to sign, which provides information about the items and what you can and cannot do with records. This is called the donor agreement or the deed of gift. See information about deeds of gift from the Society of American Archivists.
  3. Existence of Records. Once you know the scope of the collection, are there records that you already know that exist that can be included in the archive or are you starting from scratch? Additionally, are there other archives and historical societies that are already collecting this history? If so, it might be worth considering instead of starting your own archive to partner and bolster/support those efforts. Either way this brochure from the Society of American Archivists about donating records is helpful.
  4. Funding. Who or what entity will be supporting the sustaining of the archive? Funding is needed for staffing, supplies, preservation, the platform for access.
  5. Space. Where will the materials be kept? Do you have a space that is suitable for an archive, that is not a closet, attic, or basement? The amount of space will determine what you can collect.
  6. Personnel/People/Staffing. Who will be working on this project? What skills and knowledge do they have about the school, region, and archives? Is this sustainable? Is there a committee to help with this?
  7. Access. How will people know about the archive? Will this be a public facing archive or is only for selected people? How will materials be described? 
  • Last Updated Dec 01, 2023
  • Views 77
  • Answered By Aaisha Haykal

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