The value of archives
Archives are the documents we produce as we go about our lives that are retained for their long-term historical value. Archives provide a contemporaneous, authentic voice from the past providing the core evidence for past decisions, actions, experiences and relationships. As such they are vital for a multitude of uses including education, research, democratic accountability, personal understanding and community identity.
Archives cover all aspects of life as they come from many different sources such as private individuals, businesses, government, educational bodies, religious organisations, charities, clubs. They also come in a wonderful range of formats including handwritten documents, printed material, parchment, film, sound recordings, digital files, maps, and plans .
Archives in the West Midlands
The West Midlands is blessed with a large and remarkable archival heritage which documents life in the region over the last 1000 years.
Much of the region’s archive are held by formal archive services, which are freely open to the public and have lots of online information about their collections. The backbone of these services are the local authority services in each county and metropolitan district e.g. Shropshire Archives and Birmingham Archives. Several of the regions universities hold significant collections such as those of Nottingham and Keele Universities. But there are also many outstanding archive collections in private organisations such as the Media Archive of Central England and Cadbury Research Library.
To learn more about individual archive repositories in the West Midlands take a look at ‘West Midlands Archives’