About Archives Month
William R. Holmes, magician, WHI 54765
Historical Records: Keys to Our Cultural Heritage
Archives Month is an annual celebration of the value of Wisconsin's historical records, the original documents that tell the stories of our families, communities, business and civic organizations, and government institutions. During Archives Month, archival repositories, libraries, and other institutions around the state hold programs and exhibits to promote the value of historical records.
Historical Records Are Everywhere!
Historical records are not just dusty papers in an attic or dark archival repository; historical records are alive and everywhere! How many of the following items do you have in your home?
- Social security card
- School report card
- Immunization record
- Speeding ticket
- Record of births, marriages & deaths (sometimes recorded in the front of a family Bible)
- Birth certificate
- Diary or journal
- Letters that you've received or copies of letters that you've sent
- Marriage certificate
- A newspaper clipping about your child's basketball team or an obituary
- Bills, check stubs, mortgage papers
- Letter of acceptance to a college
- A scrapbook holding any of the above
These are all examples of historical records, and you can probably add many more possibilities to the list. Here are more ways that historical records are part of our daily lives:
- Churches keep records about the baptisms, marriages, and deaths of its parishioners
- Doctors and hospitals keep records on the patients they treat
- Businesses keep records that document a new invention or product
- Civic organizations (such as Kiwanis, Lyons Club, Rotary International) keep a constitution, meeting minutes, and a membership roll
- Courthouses have criminal, divorce, and civil case records
The lists go on and on! Modern lives are extensively documented, and repositories that have historical records contain the keys to understanding lives from the past.
Who Sponsors Archives Month?
Wisconsin's Archives Month is one of many such programs in the nation (states such as New York and Kentucky also have Archives Week programs). It is a participatory program sponsored by the Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board (WHRAB), which works in association with the Wisconsin Historical Society.