Skip to Main Content

Ball State University Archives and Special Collections: What is an Archive?

Archives, sometimes called archival repositories, contain one-of-a-kind materials such as diaries, letters, and photos that are preserved because these materials have long-term value for research. The Society of American Archivists, the term archives is defined as either a collection of permanently valuable records to the interpretation and understanding of history or the building which houses these records.  The term Archives, with a capital A, refers to an organization that is dedicated to preserving the documentary heritage of a particular group such as a city, a province or state, a business, a university, or a community.

Ball State University Libraries Archives & Special Collections collect material on the history of university including the papers of faculty, staff, administrators, students, and alumni as well as records produced by university departments. Additionally, Archives and Special Collections collects material pertaining the history of Muncie and Delaware County. 

Type of Archives

There are several types of Archives:

Historical Societies
Churches/Religious Organizations

Purpose and Value of an Archives

The purpose or value of archives include:

They support scholarly research to interpret and understand history.
They provide a social value by preserving the cultural heritage of a particular group.
They preserve institutional memory.
They collaborate with educational and academic programs.
They provide transparency by holding institutions accountable through public records.