An archive is an accumulation of  and are distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.
In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.
A person who works in archives is called an archival science. The physical place of storage can be referred to as an archive (more usual in the UK), an archives (more usual in the USA), or a repository.
When referring to historical records or the places they are kept, the plural form archives is chiefly used. The computing use of the term 'archive' should not be confused with the record-keeping meaning of the term.
- Etymology 1
- History 2
Users and institutions 3
- Academic 3.1
- Business (for profit) 3.2
- Government 3.3
- Church 3.4
- Films 3.5
- Non-profit 3.6
- Web archiving 3.7
- Other 3.8
- Standardization 4
- See also 5
- Notes 6
- External links 7
First attested in English in early 17th century, the word archive is derived from the French archives (plural), in turn from Latin archīum or archīvum, which is the romanized form of the Greek ἀρχεῖον (arkheion), "public records, town-hall, residence, or office of chief magistrates", itself from ἀρχή (arkhē), amongst others "magistracy, office, government" (compare an-archy, mon-archy), which comes from the verb ἄρχω (arkhō), "to begin, rule, govern".
The word originally developed from the Greek ἀρχεῖον (arkheion), which refers to the home or dwelling of the Archon, in which important official state documents were filed and interpreted under the authority of the Archon. The adjective formed from archive is archival.
The practice of keeping official documents is very old. Archeologists have discovered archives of hundreds (and sometime thousands) of clay tablets going back to the third and second millennia BC in sites like Ebla, Mari, Amarna, Hattusas, Ugarit, Pylos. These discoveries have been fundamental to know ancient alphabets, languages, literatures and politics.
Archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks, and ancient Romans (who called them Tabularia). However, they have been lost, since documents written on materials like papyrus and paper deteriorated at a faster pace unlike their stone tablet counterparts. Archives of churches, kingdoms and cities from the Middle Ages on survive and often have kept their official status uninterruptedly till now. They are the basic tool for historical research on these ages.
Modern archival thinking has many roots in the French Revolution. The French National Archives, who possess perhaps the largest archival collection in the world, with records going as far back as A.D. 625, were created in 1790 during the French Revolution from various government, religious, and private archives seized by the revolutionaries.
Users and institutions
Historians, genealogists, lawyers, demographers, filmmakers, and others conduct research at archives. The research process at each archive is unique, and depends upon the institution that houses the archive. While there are many kinds of archives, the most recent census of archivists in the United States identifies five major types: academic, business (for profit), government, non-profit, and other. There are also four main areas of inquiry involved with archives: material technologies, organizing principles, geographic locations, and tangled embodiments of humans and non-humans. These areas help to further categorize what kind of archive is being created.
Archives in colleges, universities, and other educational facilities are typically housed within a library, and duties may be carried out by an thesis copies. Access to the collections in these archives is usually by prior appointment only; some have posted hours for making inquiries. Users of academic archives can be undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff, scholarly researchers, and the general public. Many academic archives work closely with alumni relations departments or other campus institutions to help raise funds for their library or school. Qualifications for employment may vary. Entry-level positions usually require an undergraduate diploma, but typically archivists hold graduate degrees in history or library science (preferably certified by the American Library Association). Subject-area specialization becomes more common in higher ranking positions.
Business (for profit)
Archives located in for-profit institutions are usually those owned by a private business. Examples of prominent business archives in the United States include Coca-Cola (which also owns the separate museum World of Coca-Cola), Procter and Gamble, Motorola Heritage Services and Archives, and Levi Strauss & Co. These corporate archives maintain historic documents and items related to the history and administration of their companies. Business archives serve the purpose of helping their corporations maintain control over their brand by retaining memories of the company's past. Especially in business archives, records management is separate from the historic aspect of archives. Workers in these types of archives may have any combination of training and degrees, from either a history or library background. These archives are typically not open to the public and only used by workers of the owner company, though some allow approved visitors by appointment. Business archives are concerned with maintaining the integrity of their company, and are therefore selective of how their materials may be used.
Government archives include those maintained by local and state government as well as those maintained by the national (or federal) government. Anyone may use a government archive, and frequent users include reporters, genealogists, writers, historians, students, and people seeking information on the history of their home or region. Many government archives are open to the public and no appointment is required to visit.
In the United States,
- International Council on Archives
- Archives Hub — gateway to descriptions of archives held in UK universities and colleges, part of the National Archives Network
- InterPARES Project — international research project on the long-term preservation of authentic digital records
- Access to Archives (A2A) — the English strand of the UK archives network
- Online-Guide to Archives around the globe
- AIM25 – archives within the UK M25 area.
- British Cartoon Archive associated with the University of Kent
- The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives
- Banco di San Giorgio – Genova Italy: Archive (1407–1805): nearly 40,000 books catalogued with full description. www.giuseppefelloni.it
- Slavic Archives
- Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
- "archive" The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press.
- archīum, Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus
- ἀρχεῖον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- ἀρχή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- ἄρχω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Michelle Riggs, "The Correlation of Archival Education and Job Requirements Since the Advent of Encoded Archival Description," Journal Of Archival Organization 3, no. 1 (January 2005): 61-79. (accessed 23 July 2014).
- Watkins, Christine. "Chapter Report: The Many Faces of Certification." American Libraries 29, no. 9 (October 1998): 11. (accessed 23 July 2014).
- Bastian, Jeannette, and Elizabeth Yakel. "‘Are We There Yet?’ Professionalism and the Development of an Archival Core Curriculum in the United States." Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science 46, no. 2 (Spring2005 2005): 95-114. (accessed 23 July 2014)
- (French) Chiffres clés 2011. Statistiques de la Culture, Paris, La Documentation française, 2011.
- ICA Standards Page
-  Archived 18 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- List of archives and List of national archives
- Archival informatics
- Archive file
- Archival research
- Archival science
- Archive Fever (book by Jacques Derrida)
- BS 5454
- Collection (museum)
- Computer data storage
- Data proliferation
- Digital preservation
- Discovered text (archaeology)
- Greenstone (software)
- Historical document
- Information management
- Information repository
- Internet Archive
- International Council on Archives
- Manuscript processing
- Preservation (library and archival science)
ISO is currently working on standards.
The International Council on Archives (ICA) has developed a number of standards on archival description including the General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G). ISAD(G) is meant to be used in conjunction with national standards or as a basis for nations to build their own standards. In the United States, ISAD(G) is implemented through Describing Archives: A Content Standard, popularly known as "DACS". In Canada, ISAD(G) is implemented through the Council of Archives as the Rules for Archival Description, also known as "RAD" .
The archives of an individual may include letters, papers, photographs, computer files, scrapbooks, financial records or diaries created or collected by the individual – regardless of media or format. The archives of an organization (such as a corporation or government) tend to contain other types of records, such as administrative files, business records, memos, official correspondence and meeting minutes.
Another type of archive is the Public Secrets project . This is an interactive testimonial, in which women incarcerated in the California State Prison System describe what happened to them. The archive's mission is to gather stories from women who want to express themselves, and want their stories heard. This collection includes transcripts and an audio recording of the women telling their stories.
Some archives defy categorization. There are tribal archives within the archival science may have an archive. In the 2004 census of archivists taken in the United States, 2.7% of archivists were employed in institutions that defied categorization. This was a separate figure from the 1.3% that identified themselves as self-employed.
Similarly, software code and documentation can be archived on the web, as with the example of CPAN.
Web archiving is the process of collecting portions of the World Wide Web and ensuring the collection is preserved in an archive, such as an archive site, for future researchers, historians, and the public. Due to the massive size of the Web, web archivists typically employ web crawlers for automated collection.
Non-profit archives include those in historical societies, not-for-profit businesses such as hospitals, and the repositories within foundations. Non-profit archives are typically set up with private funds from donors to preserve the papers and history of specific persons or places. Often these institutions rely on grant funding from the government as well as the private funds. Depending on the funds available, non-profit archives may be as small as the historical society in a rural town to as big as a state historical society that rivals a government archives. Users of this type of archive may vary as much as the institutions that hold them. Employees of non-profit archives may be professional archivists, para-professionals, or volunteers, as the education required for a position at a non-profit archive varies with the demands of the collection's user base.
Most Protestant denominations have archives as well, including the Presbyterian U.S.A Historical Society, The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, the United Methodist Archives and History Center of the United Methodist Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
A prominent Church Archives is the Vatican Secret Archive. Archdioceses, dioceses and parishes also have archives in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches. Very important are monastery archives, because of their antiquity, like the ones of Monte Cassino, Saint Gall and Fulda. The records in these archives include manuscripts, papal records, local Church records, photographs, oral histories, audiovisual materials, and architectural drawings.
Most intergovernmental organisations keep their own historical archives. However, a number of European organisations, including the European Commission, choose to deposit their archives with the European University Institute in Florence.
In France, the French Archives Administration (Service interministériel des Archives de France) in the Ministry of Culture manages the National Archives (Archives nationales), which possess 406 km. (252 miles) of archives as of 2010 (the total length of occupied shelves put next to each other), with original records going as far back as A.D. 625, as well as the departmental archives (archives départementales), located in the préfectures of each of the 100 départements of France, which possess 2,297 km. (1,427 miles) of archives (as of 2010), and also the local city archives, about 600 in total, which possess 456 km. (283,4 miles) of archives (as of 2010). Put together, the total volume of archives under the supervision of the French Archives Administration is the largest in the world.
A network of county record offices and other local authority-run archives exists throughout England, Wales and Scotland and holds many important collections, including local government, landed estates, church and business records. Many archives have contributed catalogues to the national "Access to Archives" programme and online searching across collections is possible.
In the UK the National Archives (formerly known as the Public Record Office) is the government archive for England and Wales. The English Heritage Archive is the public archive of English Heritage. The National Archives of Scotland, located in Edinburgh, serve that country while the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast is the government archive for Northern Ireland.
—increasingly repositories list advanced degrees (e.g. MA, MLS/MLIS, PhD) and certifications as a position requirement or preference.bachelor's degree The majority of state and local archives staff hold a  NARA offers the Certificate of Federal Records Management Training Program for professional development. Professional associations themselves encourage the need to professionalize. Similar to the library profession, certification requirements and education also varies widely, from state to state.