What is an archive?
An archive is a collection of documents, records, and other materials that are created or received by an organization, family, or person. The National Park Service archives collects and preserves records vital to the function and mission of the NPS and they are permanent records preserved for the life of the organization. These records are valuable to the government for legal and fiscal purposes and serve as evidence of past work. The archives continue to inform park managers about how each parks’ resources have been cared for in the past and how best to continue that mission into the future. The Arches National Park archives preserves information pertaining to archeology, geology, history, wildlife habitat, plant life, hydrology, and more as part of the NPS mission. NPS also accepts collections donated by organizations, persons, and families directly related to the history of the parks.
An archive is also a physical place where you can gather firsthand facts, data, and evidence from letters, reports, notes, memos, photographs, and other primary sources. In this case, NPS archives serve as the raw material for writing the histories of the organization and individual parks. The archives also holds evidence of trends in environmentalism, conservationism, outdoor recreation, family vacationing, as well as other issues important to the American public. One exciting reality of archives and the study of history is that we don’t always know how the archives will be used in the future or what historians will research.