What materials tell your story?

Think about what you have done today and what ‘things’ have been created through those activities. Perhaps you started the day in the office checking emails, taking notes and responding to them, or printed out papers and went to a meeting to discuss a project. Just those two activities will have created materials like emails, handwritten notes, agendas, minutes, reports, travel expenses claims. These physical and digital things tell the story of what you did on any given day. However, if your story included the detail of everything you did day-to-day it would be very long and dull. What you want to tell is the condensed version which gives the essence of your organisation’s story.

Materials that tell that story can be put together in a collection and preserved as an archive. If you added everything to your archive you would need a lot of storage space and that’s another reason why only the things that capture the ‘big picture’ are kept. This includes important stuff (such as legal documents, vital correspondence and final copies of reports) as well as things that capture the day-to-day activities (such as minutes of formal meetings, annual accounts, selected photographs, flyers, programmes).

Toolkit tea break

Archivist's example

John Pearce papers

John Pearce was a pioneer in community enterprise from the 1970s onwards. His collection of materials tells the story of his work with organisations such as Local Enterprise Advisory Project, Community Business Scotland and Strathclyde Community Business, as well as his consultancy work and writings. Look at these examples of the materials that tell his story.

Activity A3

Identify the materials that tell your story

This activity considers the range of materials that can be used to tell an organisation’s story.

Open the Activity booklet and click on Activity A3.

Jargon buster

Archives are collections of information in any physical or digital media such as paper, parchment, film, tape, disc, which have been created and accumulated as a result of the activities of a person, family or organisation.

Records is the term used in archives for the collection of materials that tell an organisation’s story.

Papers is the term used for the collection of materials that tell a person’s or family’s story.

Find out more about these and other terms in the Jargon buster.