Does anyone here work with "old" historical records / documents? Any archivists? Museum people?

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Does anyone here work with “old” historical records / documents? Any archivists? Any museum worker people? Whats the oldest document you have?

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We have the 1837 partnership agreement between Mr. Procter and Mr. Gamble.

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We have organization’s records dated back to 1913.

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I have worked in an area where documents were dated in the early 1940s. We were a former British colony so these documents provide an interesting view of how things were done back then. They also refer to prominent individuals of that time. We don’t have an Archives just yet. During anniversaries you get to see what historical items various Units still have.

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We recently regained custody of records to one of the first mining districts in pre-territorial Arizona. It is dated from March 10th 1862 when Arizona was still New Mexico territory. This area was along the Colorado River and mining was really one of the first aspects that started settlers moving here and creating the first townsites.

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I am with the Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller’s office and we have the County records going back to 1855 when the county was formed. Among other things, besides having microfilm and digital versions of these documents, we created a historical records library that houses the old original documents. Those documents are fittingly housed in one of the old Carnegie Library buildings which celebrated its 100th anniversary yesterday.

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I work with Throntateeska Heritage Center and the South Georgia Archives. We archive and store documents (physical & digital), as well as artifacts, from our local cities and counties. Our oldest documents come from 1837.

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Yes 100 years worth of University history in multiple formats

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Quite a few of clients of Feith’s Records Management software have records dating back 100+ years as well.

Fascinating stuff! Great question Rebecca!

Rebecca, This is a timely question. Going digital is the central focus today. There are proponents for keeping a physical archives and there are those who oppose saying digital is the only way moving forward. You’re hearing so much about AI, Machine Learning, block chain etc. Robust digital preservation programs, business continuity plans and good backup of digital systems are being relayed as the insurance plan for ensuring digital records remain accessible over time. So, do you foresee physical Archives becoming a thing of the past that organizations are no longer prepared to invest in? Based on the responses, we are still in possession of some really old records thanks to institutional Archives.

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What are the procedure records disposal

Hi Ebenezer,

Our procedures for records disposal are governed by a retention schedule. Within departments, there is someone with responsibility for ensuring disposition occurs on a regular basis. Based on the category of records they are boxed according to same timeframe . A form is prepared submitting the box for storage or destruction. The form has to be signed off by the person preparing the document, a department manager, records manager and the administration team representative responsible for execution of the action. Currently all records marked permanent are housed at Offsite Storage until such time as an Archives program is started.

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Hi, there!
I, myself, dont see where archives will ever really phase out. To me, even people who really arent “into” old things, (like my kids! LOL) are fascinated with “old” things, “old papers”, “old stuff” every now and then.

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LOL! I agree. The ability to connect with the past through something tangible is real! We just love to hang on to that baby’s blanket even when it is falling to pieces…haaaahaaaa

If you have an Archives for your organization, care to share how it got started? What benefits have you gained? How costly is it to operate? What source of funding do you rely on? What type of staffing do you require? Has it been worth it for you?

I do. Our oldest record is from the 1650s and is the correspondence from the colonial pastors (Domines) in New Netherland with the church in Amsterdam. But then, we are the Reformed Church Archives.

For some of the other questions, I began the Archives for the denomination in 1978. Prior to that records had been collected and “thrown” into various places. Funding has always been a problem. In spite of over 375 years of history, we still cannot develop an effective records management operation.

Russell

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Russell,
Wow! I applaud your efforts. Lets hope greater support in terms of funding and improvements for your RM operation is imminent; 375 years of history is priceless

We have a public brochure about our history. (I dont know how to attach put the last edition brochure on this site.) Our records go back to 1815.
I can identify with you, Renee. It’s a special opportunity to be able to start an archival program. Creation is great!
I’ve touched another municipality’s that dated to about 1788… it sent chills up my spine. I envy someone who regularly worked with records from the 1600’s. I think digitalization is a great way to preserve all this local history as a preservation back up. Or if stuff is so old to use them would permanently damage them. It’s also a good way to create more accessibility to this hidden stuff.

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I was a former archivist for the Village of Loudonville. In the time I was employed there, the oldest documents I ever had the pleasure to save was payment ledger pages from 1830. I believe the payments were for taxes or fines, but live poultry was accepted as tender! We had many documents ranging from the early 1800’s to letters in the 1960’s to the mayor from former presidents and astronauts. The building in which I worked, was built in 1909- the "City Hall and Opera House’. Then it housed the public library (upstairs) and the Village fire department (downstairs). Years later, it was repurposed into Mayor’s Court (upstairs) fiscal/tax office, movie theatre and police station (downstairs). The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Ashland, Ohio. Definitely a building with a vast amount of history within its walls!

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We are still at the beginning stages of justifying an Archives for our local government records. We received a small grant (NEH) to start with hiring a conservator for training and dataloggers to collect temperature and humidity conditions in several storage locations. This data will then support the need and hopefully:crossed_fingers: aid in future grants for planning, archive materials and storage necessities within a new repository/archives. From what we have researched and seen, there isn’t a grant that supports construction costs, only grant funding for needed archival storage solutions within the four walls. So getting buy-in and support from administration and departments that need such services has been on-going, because there will definitely be a cost share. Funding in my experience, has been the number one hurdle. Glad to see there are people championing for archives!

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