An archive is a collection of historical records, or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization. As usually understood by professional archivists and historians, archives are records which have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative or social activities – they have been defined as "the secretions of an organism" – rather than those which have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.

In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that archives (the places) are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings.

A person who works in archives is called an archivist. The study and practice of organizing, preserving, and providing access to information and materials in archives is called archival science.

When referring to historical records or the places they are kept, the plural form archives is chiefly used. The computing use of the term 'archive' should not be confused with the record-keeping meaning of the term. When records and archiving professionals use the term 'archive' they are referring to the permanent storage of records, not merely their removal from current usage.

Read more about Archive:  Etymology, History, Users and Institutions, Standardization

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Famous quotes containing the word archive:

    To a historian libraries are food, shelter, and even muse. They are of two kinds: the library of published material, books, pamphlets, periodicals, and the archive of unpublished papers and documents.
    Barbara Tuchman (1912–1989)