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What Are Archives?

Have you ever wondered who used to live in your house or what the original price was? Are you interested in researching the works of a writer, an artist, or a photographer? Have you always wanted to research your family’s history? Archives hold the answers to these, and many other questions!

An archives works to acquire, preserve, and make available material collected under the terms of a particular mandate - whether that be to document a community or business, to reflect government policies, or many other reasons. Archival evidence is based around the concept of a record. Collecting records makes an archives different from a library, which collects published items, like books; or a museum, which collects artefacts, like statues, medals or other objects.

  • There are many types of archives serving a variety of groups, including:
  • Business/Corporate archives
  • Ethnic/Cultural archives
  • National, Provincial, Territorial and Municipal archives
  • Medical archives
  • Regional/Community archives
  • Religious archives
  • University/College archives

These archives often contain different kinds of records, such as:

  • Diaries and Journals
  • Meeting Minutes
  • By-laws
  • Administrative records of governments businesses, political groups
  • Legal records
  • Financial records (accounts books, ledgers, etc.)
  • Sound and video recordings
  • Maps
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Architectural plans and technical drawings

Archives ensure that the records of today are preserved for future generations. People can then use the records to study and understand the life, ideas and thoughts of their original creators, linking the past, present and future.