The term archive describes all present and past materials, that is, primary sources (papers, printed materials and manuscripts, books, notebooks and cashbooks, ledgers, records of memories and other visual or audio accounts, newspapers, maps, drawings, films, movies, tapes, digital or visual material, computer hard drives, etc.), regardless of date, form, material, and content, that are produced or used by individuals, entrepreneurs, or state/public organizations and all other entities. The document is fundamentally any material that contains information or evidence on any issue or activity. The sum of the documents is an archive. The notion of the archive is not confined exclusively to important figures and facts. Any human activity throughout time produces archives. A historical or inactive archive is the archive that is no longer used by the individuals or entities that created it. It is important to salvage and preserve such archives for research reasons. There are also active or semi-active archives that, in contrast to historical archives, are still in use by those who produced them.
The notion of the archive is more fully understood, if we consider our daily lives: for instance, there is an array of documents which prove our identity, our education level (degrees, certificates, etc.), tax documents-receipts of our daily transactions, our e-mails, photos, comments on the social media, and perhaps our notes and thoughts recorded in a diary. All this material constitutes our personal archive, while our daily work life similarly produces electronic and printed materials that constitute the archive of our work place. If we don’t make provisions for the preservation and filing of this material, then in the future, it will be difficult to have historical documents about our society and ourselves. Odd as it may seem, all this information may well be lost in the era of technology. It is clear that the galloping rate of technological advances and the insufficient attention for gathering and salvaging the material contribute to the destruction or loss of archives, older or contemporary. Consider how many photographs have been lost to destroyed hard drives and how many archives can no longer be “read” by new computers because they were stored in older disks.
The persistent collecting, retrieval, and salvaging of these archives is not a choice but rather a social necessity.