When preparing for your donation it helps to look at your records as a whole. What records do I have that illustrate the life of an individual, organization, or business? Are the records organized in any particular way? For example, are photographs kept in an album; are minutes filed by committee; is correspondence filed chronologically or alphabetically?
Unlike a library which is organized by subject, archival records are in fact organized by their creator (provenance) and arranged in the order in which they were created and maintained (original order). This allows researchers to fully appreciate the context in which the records were created--who created them, why they were created, and how they were used. Therefore, the current arrangement of your records is important.
If there is no discernable order, that’s okay too. The archivist will be able to reveal some sort of grouping that makes sense to the organizational structure and to the records themselves.
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