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The difference I see in how historical information was handled in the past
and how it should be handled in the future revolves around the point at
which and archival appraisal is done. In the past the historical record was
identified long after its business use had expired, often times the record
surfaced as a result of litigation and the idea was born that old records
beget litigation and cost the organization money. In truth bad management
costs the organization money. My opinion is that we as records managers need
to do a better job of identifying those historical records, whether public
or private that do document the historical development or our organizations.
Archival theory holds that the core information has value that continues
beyond the purpose for which it was created. If we as information managers
discard this information, out of fright and the possible misguided
perception that all old records incur a liability, we are in truth not
managing the information of our organization, to the full potential that we
are committed to achieving. In the past identifying, recreating original
order, arranging, describing, conserving, preserving and all the other
archival functions placed an inordinate burden on organizations that they
were unable or unwilling to incur. As we begin to manage information in a
more proactive manner, accomplishing may of the things Archivist had to do
retroactively, we as Records Managers can account for historical records
without drastically increasing costs or liability. In order to do this we,
as a profession must become much more knowledgeable about what constitutes
an historical record and, the importance it holds to the organization, and
how best to manage it. Currently Archivist are in large part unable or
unwilling to deal with the complexities of the active records being created
today. It is our job, in both the public and private sectors, to ensure that
all the records that need to be retained are kept and made accessible for as
long as our needs exist.

Just a thought

Chris Flynn CA CRM
Records Officer
University of Idaho
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208/885-4408

 -----Original Message-----
From:   [log in to unmask]
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Sent:   Friday, March 15, 2002 10:06 AM
To:     [log in to unmask]
Subject:        Potential Historically Significant Records

Nicky Sherman, and Chris Campbell,
Please be aware of the difference between corporate and government
environments.  Only a corporation whose mission includes documenting their
own history, or the history of others, would invest in an Archivist.  Most
corporate missions involve selling something or providing a service in a
way to gain a profit.  Very few long-term historical records aid this goal.
So, corporate historians are left with reconstructing history from whatever
records and artifacts survived.  Government and university environments are
repositories of historical records of the public and of research in the
various university disciplines.

Throughout history, governments documented their successes, ditched records
of their failures, rewriting history.  The successive government, after the
annexation, war or revolution, would clear out the previous government's
records and apply its own record-keeping standards.  Historians are left
with leftovers.

Presently, there is a greater interest than ever before in documenting
history in the United States, from people doing genealogy, scrapbooking to
Presidents keeping every bit of information they touched (except the
evidence of wrong-doing).  There is also greater interest in personal
missions and getting rid of "stuff" that holds one back.

Although I'm a History major in college and a Pack Rat, I still say that
corporate organizations should put historical considerations waaay behind
fiscal, legal and administrative considerations.  Thank you for letting me
air my vocabulary.

Lorinda Kasten-Lowerre
(Exalted!) Records Analyst
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Torrance, California, USA
Member  ARMA, The Association for Information Management Professionals
Membership Chair/Secretary Orange County CA ARMA Chapter
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<Check out Orange County California ARMA's website at ocarma.org

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