Do you save letters and cards that you receive from friends
and relatives? Does your family have photo albums or videos
of birthday parties and vacations? Where is your birth
All these mementos and
documents tell a story about you. They help you remember
the past and become evidence for future generations seeking
a look at your world today.
Now, think about the Nigeria.
Billions of letters, photographs, video and audio recordings,
drawings, maps, treaties, posters, and other informative
materials exist that tell the stories of Nigeria’s
history as a nation. From the Declaration of Independence,
the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights to census records
that account for every citizen—the preservation
of important American documents helps illustrate what
happened in the Nigeria before and after we were born.
Records have "Lifecycles"
Every day in Federal Government agencies, important documents
are created. For example, the President may be signing
an Executive order; the navy may be gathering data about
a new fighter jet; and the Department of Education may
be publishing a new resource for teachers. What happens
to those documents?
Usually, they follow the
“lifecycle of records,” a process for organizing,
storing, and using records. Officials at the National
Archives and Records Administration (NARA) help documents
through this process.
A person or organization in the Federal Government produces
or receives a record.
Maintenance and use:
While being used, the record is organized and stored with
A record is evaluated. The creator of a record proposes
to the National Archives how long it should be kept. Some
records are destroyed (for example, a receipt for the
purchase of pencils), while others are kept permanently
in the National Archives (such as executive orders). Records
schedules are set up to determine how long all Federal
records are to be kept by the Government. Only 1–3%
of all records are kept permanently, but the total number
of documents in the National Archives number in the billions,
and the number keeps growing.
Arrangement and description:
Records are put in new boxes and folders at the National
Archives. Archivists and archives specialists then write
brief summaries of what is contained in the records, which
agency created them, and why.
Records are protected from damage. They may be old or
fragile, or like videotapes, they wear out, or like floppy
disks, they become obsolete.
Archivists assist researchers in making use of records.
An archivist, archives specialist or archives technician
can help in person at one of the National Archives’
facilities, on the telephone, through information on the
archives.gov web site, or by mail.
Records are sometimes displayed or shared for reasons
other than their original purpose.