Course:2: Acquiring Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 2: Writing A Collection Policy
Topic:Element Two


Element 2:
The Purpose of the Program

All organizations that maintain an historical records program have a purpose for collecting those records. This purpose may be specifically stated, or it may be an informal understanding. 

Your purpose can be influenced by many factors including

  • The nature of your organization itself
  • Your geographic location
  • Your organization's intended audience

Your collection policy should contain your organization's statement of purpose. The statement should be short and concise, summarizing why you have an historical records program. 

Assignment iconOne
Your statement of purpose should answer these four questions. Take a moment to answer them for your organization.

1.  What subjects, groups, or region should your collections document?

2.  What types of material should your organization collect? 

3.  How should the material you collect be used?

4.  Who are the primary users (audience) of the collections?

Assignment iconTwo
Now that you have answered these questions, you can use your responses to craft your statement of purpose. You can use the following format to help you:

The purpose of the [name of program and parent organization] is to document the [subjects, groups, region emphasis about which the program collects].

The [program name here] identifies, collects, preserves and makes available historical records documenting [scope here] for use by [audience].

Examples icon

After you have completed the two assignments in the left column, click here to review four examples of purpose statements.  

Do they clearly answer the four questions? 

Do they follow the format identified in Assignment 2?

 Assignment icon

Having read these examples, revise your draft statement to improve its clarity. Then include it in the Element 2 area on the Collection Policy Components and Template.


 Various records sitting on table in home
 What is the purpose of your organization?