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


Defining Archives, continued

Archives are Organizations

Finally, "archives" may also mean an organization, program, or agency that is responsible for managing and preserving historical records. We have referred to this in earlier lessons as a "historical records program." For the purposes of this course, the two terms will be used interchangeably. 

How many archival organizations can be found in the United States? A report called "Where History Begins" provides information from a 1997 survey that indicated there are more than 3,500 private, non-profit repositories in the 26 states that did the survey. If you add to this the other states and all the local government archives, the number comes close to 10,000 nationally!

Definition icon

What's in a name?
We'll be using the terms "archives" and "historical records program" interchangeably in these courses.