Archives Month is an annual celebration of the value of Washington State's historical records-those original documentary materials that tell the stories of our families, communities, businesses, civic organizations, and government institutions. During October, archives, historical societies, museums, libraries and other institutions throughout the state present programs and exhibits to promote the value of the historical records they hold in trust for the people of Washington.
What Are Historical Records?
Historical records are public or private documentary sources that may come in many forms: paper documents, photographs, films, audio and video tapes, and electronic/digital files. They may have been created yesterday or a hundred years ago. Historical records help transmit culture from one generation to the next. They can teach lessons about how problems similar to ours have been handled in the past. Historical records can serve many needs and purposes:
- Citizens seeking documents vital to establish their identities and rights
- Citizens seeking to participate in government
- Citizens seeking to make governments accountable
- Historians and students doing research
- Specialists in many areas seeking information for projects
- People doing family or community research
- People researching historic buildings for preservation or architectural studies
Historical Records Are Everywhere!
Historical records are alive and well, not just in archives and other repositories, but everywhere. You probably have many historical records in your home: Social Security card, report cards, immunization records, driver's license, birth certificate, marriage certificate, letters, diaries, newspaper clippings, photographs, albums, scrapbooks, and computer files. Other places that have historical records include churches, doctors' offices and hospitals, businesses, civic organizations, and government agencies.
Our modern lives are extensively documented, both on paper and on computers, and repositories of historical records contain the keys to understanding lives from the past. As our current lives become the past, records that are preserved will illuminate our lives, too.
What is an archives? What do archivists do?
How can I preserve records of my own family, business, organization or church?