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THE PROCESS OF ARCHIVES-MAKING

In our locality, my friends used to ask me about the procedure of archival work and when I explain to them with some books on archive science, they simply query whether I might put it down in writing. Here, I venture to do so.After having undergone basic archival training, organized records survey teams communicate with various record creating agencies where each team will prepare record inventories for all non-current records.

The aim of preparing record inventories is to sort out which records shall be appraised as to be detained and which to be destroyed.When the records produced in an agency no longer constitute a useful precedent for its new responsibilities, lose their legal and administrative significance and, so far as the administration is concerned, may be done away with.

At this moment, certain series of the records, carefully weeded, acquire a new type of usefulness; they become documentary sources of historical value for the study of a particular society, providing the student of history with a solid basis for his work and enabling him to interpret the documentation available to him scientifically.

Therefore, first of all, records are grouped as record-series. These include records of a transaction either operational or facilitative activities. The concept of record-series is opposed to that of a collection, which is valid in the case of librarian. Each record-series shall be noted down by the team in a separate form of record inventory.

A record inventory indicates the record creating agency, the location of the records, a brief description of the record-series, opening date and closing date of the series, number of files and size of them, order of documents within a file (e.g. chronological, numerical etc.), either active or non-active, any restriction, similar location and copies if any. The appraisal of the team is reviewed by the head of the agency or a responsible official assigned by the head, and again by the archivist.

Having obtained the approval of the archivist, the record creating agency will then prepare two sets of transfer lists of those records detained. In these lists, name of the ministry or the department or the office, class of records such as files, bundles, dossiers, books, papers and their numbering system, a concise description of the contents, number of records and any other particulars are to be mentioned. Both these sets of transfer lists and records are then transferred to archival depository. In case all the non-current records are transferred to

archival depository without any appraisal, the archivist with the help of his staff has to do the needful as shown above. Thus each record-group-whether it is the result produced of or institutional purposes of the day-to-day activity of government agencies-is transferred to the archival depository, once any useless and obsolete matter has been removed, in order that it may be preserved, classified and arranged, hoisted and made available not only to the public but also to research workers, to enable them to understand the past, the transformations and vicissitudes undergone by peoples and their civilizations in the course of their sometimes slow, sometimes rapid and remedies, historical development.

If it is to retain its evidential value, the documentation arriving in the archival depository shall not be subjected to systematic and subjective reclassification, not split up to form separate collections. On the contrary, it should be kept in its original classification, because it is necessary to study and interpret the documentary sources in terms of the agency which has produced and preserved them. It is the archivist’s job to check Is this original classification and to restore it if it has been upset so that records can be given their natural interpretation.

A set of transfer lists become check list for the archival depository, and when found correct, the archivist signs on the remaining set which is returned to the sender as acknowledgement. Then the records which have now become archives-are accessioned in the register. To avoid deterioration, the archives are fumigated, guarded, repaired and rehabilitated or rebound if necessary.

The more significant ones are given priority to lamination or encapsulation. Lamination is to be done by hand process or mechanical means whichever suits the conditions.After this process, archives are listed in archival inventories and arranged on the shelves in the stack areas of the depository. Calendaring, descriptive-listing or detailed-listing is prepared for some of them which call for more information. All of the archives are cataloged in at least three forms of cards, viz, name-card, provenance card, and classified card.

The name of each file may have already been written on the file by the agency itself, but it may sometimes be misleading, so the archivist is not wrong in giving an appropriate nomenclature to it. Usually provenance refers to the record-creating agency, but sometimes it will also be the legitimate possessor (may be the successor). Classified cards signify what type of records are grouped in the depository, such as meeting minutes, reports, etc.

Then the archivist prepares the shelf-lists and class lists of his accumulations. He will register whenever a file is taken out from the shelves, mostly to the research room, and will put an indication-card in place of the original file that has been taken out. He will note down about the usage of the file in a form which is usually attached at the back portion of the file. Open access is unknown to archival depository. However, the original files are served directly back to its record-creating agencies, though the public, including scholars, lack the same privilege. They can, however, study in the research room.

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