Course:1: Archives and Archivists
Lesson:Lesson Four: What Is an Archives?
Topic:Who is in the "Archives business"?


Who Is in the "Archives Business"?

An organization may have its own archives responsible for the historical records of that organization. 

A state or local government may have its own archives responsible for the historical records created by that government.  

A public library may have a distinct historical records program that preserves local historical records.

An historic house museum may have historical records from the families that lived there.

A county historical society may have historical records--but also books and artifacts reflecting the history of the county.

What Is the Business of An Archives?

Archives are found in many different contexts:  public and private; individual and organizational; profit and non-profit; small and large; national and local. No matter what the circumstances, all archival programs have the same fundamental goals.

An archives:

  • Ensures that historical records are collected, identified, organized, preserved, and made available for use
  • Allows access to the experience of others
  • Provides information on history and cultural heritage
  • Puts events and information into historical context

Wetherford College library interior

The Weatherford College Library Archives and Special Collections houses the college's historical materials, Parker County histories, histories of Texas counties, information on ranching in the Southwest, and old photographs.

 Old Hershey's candy bar wrapper 

The Hershey Community Archives collections tell the history and development of the company founder and the Hershey, PA community.

Resource icon

“Where History Begins” (PDF) Report available at