Your business and your organization's history is important to its continued existence! Just as a person without a memory is functionally impaired, so too is an organization or business without a link to its own past. To a large degree, your business and your organization's memory lies in its records: the minutes, original letters, publications, photographs, videotapes, and other documents that its officers and members have collected and produced over the years. These documents give unique and vital testimony to the life and achievements of your organization or your business.
Your business and your organization's history is important to your community! Your business or organization, no matter what its mission, has shared in the heritage of a certain place and time. Your organization's records document this and are a part of your community's collective memory. Most individuals and groups lack the resources or expertise to properly preserve their own records. Fortunately, there are places that are in the business of preserving history: the archives of your local, county, and state libraries, museums, universities, and historical societies. These professional institutions are the caretakers of our documented past.
What an Archives can do for you! An archives is a place where historically significant documents are housed and attended. If your business' or your organization's records are deemed appropriate for an archives' collections, you stand to gain many benefits. An archives can provide the records with environmentally controlled storage, freeing up your own space. It can safeguard the records by overseeing their handling and use. More important, it can provide research access to the valuable information the records contain, both to members of your organization and to the scholarly public. By placing the records in an archives, you take an important step toward their preservation -- and you assure that the memories they contain will be kept alive.
What documents should be placed in an archives? Many of the materials produced by an organization are significant. An archives is interested in the documents of enduring historical value, those that best illustrate the activities of your business or your organization. Most often, such documents represent an "end product," such as a final report.
Professional staff can help you determine what to choose. To protect your privacy or the privacy of your members, restrictions on access may be negotiated if necessary. In any case, the records should be inactive, that is, no longer regularly used for routine business. Some of these documents may include:
- Architectural records
- Articles of incorporation
- Audio recordings
- By-laws and revisions
- Constitution and revisions
- Financial statements
- Legal documents
- Minutes of meetings
- Motion picture film and videotape
- Newsletters and other publications
- Organizational charts
- Pamphlets, brochures, flyers. etc.
- Planning documents
- Press releases
- Reports (annual, committee)
- Subject files
- Tax returns
If are interested in placing your inactive records in an archives or starting your own archives, please contact:
The Rochester Regional Library Council
390 Packetts Landing
Fairport, NY 14450