Course:1: Archives and Archivists
Lesson:Lesson Four: What Is an Archives?
Topic:Archives are Records

 Lesson Four: What is an Archives?

Defining "Archives"

As we mentioned in Lesson Two, the word "archives" can mean different things.

Archives are Records

"Archives" can refer to non-current records or groups of records collected and preserved by an individual or organization.

In this case, "archives" are the papers, documents, files, photographs, and other materials created by individuals or organizations.

They are the unique records people will want or need to use--now and in the future--to understand their history and society, to provide evidence for legal purposes, to prove ownership and rights, or to demonstrate how organizations operated and how people lived. In this case, "archives" are the historical records.

Example icon

In the right column is a letter dated Jan. 19,1891 from Buffalo Bill Cody to Annie Oakley which discusses the situation with Americans in the West--a unique record of American history.

Lesson Length icon

This lesson will take about 10 minutes to complete.

photo of Buffalo Bill Cody letter 
Buffalo Bill Cody letter to Annie Oakley.

Source: Darke County Historical Society, Garst Museum, Greenville, Ohio