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Archival science

Archival science is the theory and study of the safe storage, cataloguing and retrieval of documents and items.[1] Emerging from diplomatics,[2] Archival Science also encompasses the study of past efforts to preserve documents and items, remediation of those techniques in cases where those efforts have failed, and the development of new processes. The field also includes the study of traditional and electronic catalogue storage methods, digital preservation and the long range impact of all types of storage programs. [3]

In 1540, Jacob von Rammingen (1510-1582) wrote the manuscript of the earliest known archival manual. He was an expert on registries (Registraturen), the German word for what later became known as archives. Rammingen elaborated a registry for the Augsburg city council - but could not be personally present there, and thus had to describe the structure and management of the archives in writing. Rammingen can be considered the father of archival science since this was the earliest published work dealing with that subject. However, Rammingen himself refers to earlier literature about records keeping. These earlier manuals were, however, usually not published. Therefore it is impossible to establish exactly when archival science was "born". Jacob von Rammingen's manual was printed in Heidelberg in 1571.[4]

Traditionally, archival science has involved the study of methods for preserving items in climate-controlled storage facilities. It is also the study of cataloguing and accession, of retrieval and safe handling. The advent of digital documents along with the development of electronic databases has caused the field to revaluate its means and ends.[5]

While generally associated with museums and libraries, the field also can pertain to individuals who maintain private collections or business archives.

Archival Science is taught in colleges and universities, usually under the umbrella of Information science or paired with a History program.

Professional organizations, such as the Society of American Archivists (SAA), seek to foster study and professional development. In 2002 the SAA published guidelines for a graduate program in Archival Studies,[6] but these guidelines have not been adopted by the majority of universities. As a result, practitioners of archival science may come from a varied background of library, history, or museum studies programs. There is little uniformity in the education of new archivists entering the job market.


[edit] Some colleges and universities teaching archival science

North America

South America

United Kingdom



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[edit] Terminology guides

[edit] Biographies of important archivists

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