Archives Matter!

What is an Archives?  Is it some mysterious club that only library workers belong to?  The short answer is no.  Chances are you have an archive at home -maybe love letters to your spouse, family photos, mom’s wedding gown, a collection of your favorite vinyl records.  My personal archives consists of photographs, handwritten love letters from my husband, my first piece of jewelry from my dad.  Yes, everyone has something worth preserving for future generations.

The Society of American Archivists defines archives as  materials created or received by a person, a family, or an organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value in the information they contain or because they provide evidence of the function and the responsibilities of their creator.  Both these records, and the places in which they are kept, are called archives.  Archival records take many forms, including correspondence, diaries, photographs, video or audio recordings, publications, and electronic records.  The people who manage these records are called Archivists.   Archivists, or in my case Archival Assistants, keep records that have enduring value as reliable memories of the past, and they help people find and understand the information they need in those records.  Now that you understand the terms archives and archivist, let’s move on to preservation.

As defined by the Society of American Archivists, Preservation is the act of keeping from harm, injury, decay, or destruction, especially through invasive treatment.  Have you ever seen the yellowing, fading, and warping of papers, books, or photographs exposed to too much light  (artificial and natural) and heat , perhaps from sitting around somebody’s hot garage for days, months, or years or from hanging near a window?  What about the mold spots growing on that picture in Grandma’s attic?  If you want to save these materials for future generations, place them in a room with minimal light exposure and with climate control to lower temperature and humidity.

light exposure before uv filter installation--before and after photo

light exposure before uv filter installation–before and after photo


Your University Archives has many records that document the history of the campus.  Do you know that in the very beginning this campus was a medical school, not the UT Health Science Center?  Do you know the names of the founding faculty members?  Are you curious about the first graduating class or are you interested in researching early medical doctors who lived and practiced in San Antonio?

Materials in the University Archives include photographs (like the ones pictured below), yearbooks, news clippings, meeting minutes, student newsletters, graduation programs, video and sounds recordings, college catalogs, casebooks and journals, and many other items – too many to list here.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read my post.  If you have a story of the early days of the Health Science Center or medicine in San Antonio to share, please send to or call 210-567-2470.  Happy Archives Month, All.

Information Courtesy of:

Mellisa DeThorne, Keeper of precious things