I. GETTING STARTED

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 An archives needs authority. Employees of your convention, union, or body will be reluctant to surrender the records in their office files unless they are instructed to surrender them. Leaders will not wish to give their correspondence to an archives without official assurance that they are acting correctly. Your governing body should establish the archives and give it authority to do its work.

A first step is to declare ownership of your records. Employees and leaders may believe that the records they have are their personal property. They may not realize that the records they create and receive in doing the work of your convention, union, or body belong to that organization. Your governing body should declare ownership.

A second step might be to appoint a committee. The committee should be representative of your convention, union, or body. It should include highly respected leaders and people who are not so well known, clergy and laypersons, employees from different areas of work, persons from different geographic areas. Such a committee, composed of members who will bring different points of view, is likely to consider all the questions that your convention, union, or body will have about an archives. Such a committee can write an archives program statement to recommend to your governing body.

A. What Is a Program Statement?

A program statement defines a program. By voting for an archives program statement, your governing body establishes the archives and grants authority for the archives to carry out the program described in the program statement.

The program statement should state that the governing body is establishing the archives and is authorizing the archives to act on behalf of the body. It should state the purpose and functions of the archives. It should declare the place of the archives in your organizational setting: To whom is the archives responsible? What are the limits of its authority? In the program statement, your governing body might repeat the declaration of ownership of the records.

A program statement may have a different name. It could be called policy or policy statement. An example is in Appendix A.

B. Writing a Program Statement

The program statement your governing body adopts may be quite different from the one that appears in the Appendix. Each program statement is unique, because the needs and abilities of each organization that establishes an archives are unique. Your archives is to serve your convention, union, or body and should do the work that that organization (1) wants it to do and (2) can pay for.

The persons assigned to write your organization's program statement will need time. They must discover what your organization wants from an archives and what it needs. They must find out what resources are available: money; space; people. They should evaluate future support for an archives. It is better to begin small with the potential for growth than to begin an extensive archival program that will have to be abandoned for lack of funds.

The persons writing your program statement must learn something about archives and archival work. They can learn about archives by reading this manual and some of the booklets listed in the Bibliography. They can learn by talking with archivists. Some sources of information and assistance are listed with the Bibliography.

They will want to consider the answers to many questions.

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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

What historical records does your archives want to acquire? Do you want records of churches? records of associations? records of geographic or administrative divisions? or only the records of your convention, union, or body? Do you want records of influential leaders? Do you want records of other organizations related to your organization? Are other existing archives collecting some of these historical records?

Do you want historical records in all formats or media? Do you want film, photographs, slides, audiocassettes, videocassettes, maps, blueprints, paintings, furniture, three dimensional museum objects? Do you want machine-readable records such as computer discs? Are records in all formats equally useful? Can you store records in all formats?

Where will you store your historical records? How will you guarantee a good environment? What equipment and supplies will you need?

How will you acquire historical records? Will your governing body adopt a records management program so that records will automatically pass to the archives? Will you accept items on loan? Will you purchase records or, at least, pay for their transfer to your place of storage? Will you accept confidential correspondence? How will you control access to it?

Who will be able to use the historical records? Where can they be used? Will you loan them? Will you photocopy records; and if so, what are your obligations under copyright law? Will you offer reference and research services?

What auxiliary programs will you carry out? Will you do oral histories? Will you offer exhibits? publications? Will you microfilm your historical records?

How many people will be needed to work in the archives?

Can you use volunteers?

How will your archives be financed?

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They will want to consider these questions, even though they will not answer all of them in the program statement they are writing. In that statement, for example, they will not specify where the records are to be stored nor how many persons are to be employed. But they need to investigate storage and labor costs in order to make sure that the archives program they propose is one the convention, union, or body can support.

A program statement should not contain details but should be the framework on which the details can later be hung. A program statement is basic policy, that which does not need frequent amendment.

C. Adopting a Program Statement

Once the program statement is written, the governing body of your convention, union, or body should formally adopt it, making the archives program official policy. Ideally, the archives program should be written into your organization's constitution or bylaws.

Its adoption should be publicized. You want the members of your convention, union, or body to know that there is an official archives, an agency to which they should deposit any of the organization's records they might possess. They also need to be aware of the services and assistance provided by the archives.