What are Archives?

You can complete our survey via the City of Edinburgh Council’s Consultation Hub.

Edinburgh City Chambers Archives Store
Council minute books and other records on bespoke shelving in the archives repository within the City Chambers

Archives are the records of the past that tell us what happened, when and how. They can be anything from a 12th-century royal charter to last month’s webcast of an important meeting. Increasingly, the archives of tomorrow are digital records rather than the paper and parchment of the past.

The critical thing about archives is not how old they are but what information they have in them. Records become archives when someone decides that they are going to preserve them forever as valuable information that we should remember. The people who make those decisions are called archivists, and they often work in archive services as part of larger organisations. These services seek to collect, preserve and provide access to archives that meet the needs of their organisations or communities as corporate or civic memories.

Archives can have a powerful effect upon people, organisations, and communities – helping them maintain a sense of identity and history. They also help us understand why things are the way they are  – so we can avoid the mistakes of the past, identify and celebrate untold heroes and hold our leaders to account.

You can complete our survey via the City of Edinburgh Council’s Consultation Hub.