Archives are records of activities, events, decisions or discussions which have been selected for permanent preservation. They are created by individuals, groups, organisations, businesses, landed estates and so on. Formats will vary - they may be typewritten, handwritten, audio-visual, or on computer disk.
The principal reason for keeping archives is so that they can be used for historical research, but some have to be kept also for reference on legal and administrative matters.
Each document, old or new, large or small, probably contains information not likely to be found elsewhere, which throws light not only on the history of the body or activity which created it but on some of the vast number of topics about which people visit us to seek information.
These enquiries can rarely be answered fully from just one document or a single source. The accumulation of archives from different sources provides a jigsaw which gives a much fuller picture of our history.
What kind of archives do we collect?
View our Acquisition and Disposal policy.
Why study the past?
A wise former County Archivist once wrote:
Knowledge of the past is as essential to a community as memory to a healthy person. We must have an understanding of how we have arrived at where we are, for without that we have no means of knowing or deciding where we are going.