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
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
They will want to consider the answers to many questions.
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?
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
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
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.