Archives are collections of historical records and documents that contain information about people, events, places, or artefacts. The nature of archives is such that they touch upon wide range of life aspects, and they are, largely, actual records and items, not descriptions thereof. This makes them uniquely valuable and different from historical books that talk about those aspects. So, there are many reasons why archives matter.
Why Archives Matter
1- Archives give us evidence of activities
It is true that historical books and resources provide information on past events and peoples. Yet, archival material is the main evidence of those happenings. They are hands-on proof of how people lived, what they used, deals they conducted, and more.
2- Archival records are more neutral
Compared to historical documents, archival documents and artefacts stand neutral in the perspective one can look from at them. They give us a less biased record of what happened than secondary sources.
3- Archives help empower our identity
We understand cultures more by seeing its components first-hand. Archival material will help do just that for so many cultures and indigenous people around the world.
4- Archives can help in ensuring justice prevails
In political and historical conflicts, sometimes artefacts can be the only proof standing on the side of a certain party. Related organizations do great work in preserving archival material that might seem irrelevant to lots of people at a certain point in time. Yet, this material can be the sole judge in a case relating to a minority, for example.
5- Archives tell interesting stories
People love stories, don’t they? Historical letters and documents tell fascinating stories that relate eye-witness accounts of war related events and more as an example. Other documents that can tell stories are membership slips in historic organizations, transport tickets, recipes, family trees, and more. Tools also tell captivating stories of how people lived their daily lives.
Finally, it is important to emphasize why taking care of archives matter the most. The majority of archival material will not be bind into books and a treasure of evidence and information will be lost if we do not preserve it. We cannot deny nowadays that books are not the only source of information there is out there.
1- King’s College Introduction to Archives: http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/archive-centre/introduction-archives/definition/why-important.html
2- American Archivist / Vol. 53 / Spring 1990: http://www.americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.53.2.d6rh3w55028u4h14?code=same-site
3- National Archives: https://www.archives.gov/research/recover/importance.html
Feature image source: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/tag/artifact/