Back to Contents Page


Next Chapter

 A. What Is An Archives?

The English word archives has three meanings.

First, archives are non-current records kept because they possess information of permanent value. They are your convention's, union's or body's old records. They are the minutes, reports, correspondence, speeches, newsletters, programs, photographs, and publications that the organization created or received in doing its work but no longer needs in order to do that work. They are the old records that your organization should keep, because they contain important facts about the organization. They are its historical records. Archives, used in this way, are also called archival holdings or archival materials.

Second, archives means the place where archival holdings are kept. This place is also called an archival repository.

Third, archives means the agency or department that is responsible for selecting, preserving, and making available archival holdings.

When we speak of developing an archives, we are using archives to mean the agency or department. The Baptist Heritage Commission of the Baptist World Alliance encourages every member body of the Baptist World Alliance to establish an agency or department to be responsible for selecting, preserving, and making available that body's historical records.

B. Why Establish An Archives?

Your convention, union, or body can benefit from an archives. The archives will serve as a collective memory. It can provide the necessary facts in financial and legal matters. It can answer questions about the past, helping your leaders to plan for the future. It will make knowledge of your history possible. The archives will preserve your heritage in documents, enabling your descendants to know and understand their past.

Where are these documents now? They may be scattered, kept by individual leaders of your convention, union, or body. An archives can locate your historical records and put them in a central location. Perhaps your historical records are crowding office files, requiring space that is needed for current work. An archives can remove historical records and also help office workers identify current records which have no permanent value and can be discarded.

Your records may be disintegrating. The materials on which your past is recorded--paper, film, tape--do not last unless carefully preserved. An archives can provide the proper environment and see to it that your records are organized. Without organization, they will be useless, merely boxes of old papers. An archives makes historical records available to persons seeking information.

An archives will serve your convention, union, or body by acquiring, selecting, preserving, and making available your historical records for present and future use.