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The use of archive material of the countries of the socialist community for national economic purposes
Retrospective documentary information is important because virtually no sector of the national economy, science or culture can advance without scrutinizing and drawing upon the lessons of the past. Such information is particularly timely at the present stage of the development of society, when the gathering pace of scientific and technological progress has become a decisive factor in raising the effectiveness of social production.
Meeting society's needs in regard to retrospective documentary information is one of the basic functions of the State archive services of the countries of the socialist community. It was therefore highly relevant to discuss, at the meeting of archivists of the countries of the socialist community, the problem of organizing the utilization of archive material for national economic purposes.
General. For the archive institutions of the countries of the socialist community, the notion of utilization of material to serve national economic interests includes primarily full utilization of the information contained in the material for the purpose of tackling present-day economic development tasks.
The utilization of material for national economic purposes is understood by archivists in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to cover reference to the documentary information of ministries and departments, research and design institutions, enterprises and other organizations in forecasting and planning the country's economic development, improving management and accounting, executing planning and experimental design work and applied research, optimizing production and technological processes, and so on.
Archive material - chiefly scientific, technological and cartographic documentation - is used in the planning, construction and reconstruction of water-management works, communications infrastructures, industrial enterprises and public buildings, in geological prospection and mining, in the restoration of historical and cultural monuments and in the further development of agricultural production, forestry and environmental protection.
Extensive use of retrospective information is made in all countries of the socialist community when preparing plans for irrigation works, constructing reservoirs and conducting operations in connection with river regulation, protecting banks from overflowing and flooding, and so on. In the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, for example, material presented by archivists was drawn upon for planning major hydraulic works on the Song Koi and projecting the exploitation of the Mekong Delta. Geographical, geological and hydrological material has been used by Vietnamese specialists in connection with the establishment of hydrological improvement schemes and the construction of hydroelectric power plants, including that on the Da Dung (the largest in South-East Asia).
Soviet archive material was used in the reconstruction of the cascade of hydrosystems on the Dnieper, in the elaboration of comprehensive water-management plans for the Zeya and Selenga, Kura and Naryn and northern rivers, in the designing of a dyke to protect Leningrad from flooding, and in other schemes.
The archives of a number of socialist countries (Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Romania, the USSR and Viet Nam) make their material available to organizations concerned with the planning, construction and reconstruction of roads, railways and bridges. In particular, archive material was used in connection with the strengthening of bridges over the Osum in Bulgaria, the reconstruction of the 'Unity' railway line between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam, railway electrification, construction and reconstruction of motorways and the routing of new highways in the German Democratic Republic, the rebuilding of a railway bridge over the Warta in Poland, the construction of railway lines in Slovakia, and the planning of the Baikal-Amur line in the USSR.
The study by specialists of maps, plans and other material from geological prospections of earlier years and of information on the occurrence of mineral resources has assisted the extension and intensification of their mining, renewed industrial exploitation of previously abandoned pits and mines and the reconstruction and modernization of mining and other industrial enterprises in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR.
In all countries of the socialist community active recourse is had to archive material in connection with the restoration of historical and cultural monuments and the reconstruction and repair of residential and public buildings and urban communications. Some instances of this have been the reconstruction of the Higher Medical Institute building in Bulgaria; the construction of the 'Poznan' hotel and the repairing of the swimming pool at the Olympic stadium in Wroclaw and the reconstruction of a number of parks, including Srebrna Góra, in Poland; and the rehabilitation of historic centres in Bratislava, Kremze, Levoca and elsewhere in Czechoslovakia. Material from the State archives of the USSR has been made available to organizations working on the restoration of the structural complex of the Moscow Kremlin, architectural monuments in old Russian cities forming part of the 'Golden Ring', parts of the suburbs of Leningrad, the main street of Kiev - the Kreshchatik - and much else.
In recent years specialists engaged in agriculture and forestry in all the countries of the socialist community have been making increasingly frequent use of archive material. On the basis of such material, Vietnamese agronomists carried out work on such crops as tea, rice, coffee and rubber; Hungarian specialists investigated archives in order to determine the influence of Lake Balaton on agriculture; study by German scientists of data regarding the composition of forest stands in former years assisted preparation of a long-term plan for national forestry development; in Poland, information on ponds and reservoirs was of assistance in measures to develop fishing in the Dolny Slazk region; and representatives of the Higher Agricultural School of Slovakia made use of archive material in work on the improvement of agricultural crops and livestock species.
Considerable work is done by Soviet archives on organizing the utilization of material in the interests of agricultural development. In pursuance of the decision of the March 1965 Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CC/CPSU) 'on urgent measures to secure the further development of agriculture in the USSR', the 1974 decision of the CC/CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR 'on measures to secure the further development of agriculture outside the Black-Earth Zone of the RSFSR', the decisions of the 1982 May and November Plenums of the CC/CPSU and the tasks set in his speech to the November 1982 Plenum by Y.V. Andropov, General Secretary of the CC/CPSU, State archives make available to interested organizations material throwing light on the development of agriculture: on the zoning and structure of sown areas, crop pest control, the breeding of various species of livestock, the growing of experimental cereal and feed crops, irrigation and field-protection works, the utilization of reservoirs for fish breeding, and so on.
Retrospective documentary information is also used in the USSR in the preparation of State instruments and government decisions. For instance, when preparing the Land Act and the Cadastral Survey specialists studied sets of material on arable and pasture lands and soil maps; in the preparation of a number of decisions on environmental protection, use was made of control regulation documents specifying nature protection measures.
Archive material is extensively drawn upon by scientists and specialists for forecasting and forward planning of the socio-economic development of the USSR, of particular branches of the national economy and of individual regions of the country
A variable amount of working time is spent on organizing the utilization of archive material in the countries of the Socialist community for national economic purposes. While Czechoslovak archivists spend on such documentary work about 4 per cent of the time allotted to scientific information activity, the corresponding proportions in Hungary and Romania are as much as 20 per cent. Such activity accounts for over 50 per cent in the case of Vietnamese archivists, and in Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Poland and the USSR it averages 10 per cent.
Communist parties and governments of countries of the socialist community attach great importance to State archives as sources of information on national economic matters. Many legal instruments and guidance documents contain provisions encouraging the use of archive information. For instance, a number of decisions of the Party and Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam point to the need to have recourse to archive material when organizing 'specialized works'. A circular signed by President do Chi Minh on 3 January 1946, the first standard-setting instrument of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on archive administration, contains recommendations on the use of archive material in development work aiding the national economy.
A Hungarian extraordinary decree of 1969, in a section concerning the regulation of clerical work, emphasizes the need to devise such a system of organizing departmental records as will serve the interests of the national economy.
A 1976 decision of the Government of the German Democratic Republic on State archives makes it their main duty to supply information to State and national economic bodies and institutions. Legislation on specific branches of the national economy also indicates the need to make use of archive material.
The 1971 Decree on National Archives of the Socialist Republic of Romania provides for a number of measures intended to stimulate the information activity of archive institutions for national economic needs.
In the USSR, work on the utilization of material in the interests of the national economy began in the earliest years of Soviet archive construction. Lenin's decree of 1 June 1918 'on the reorganization and centralization of archives in the RSFSR', which is a basic instrument of archivists, emphasizes that archive material is centralized 'for purposes of optimum scientific utilization'.
The tasks of archives in aiding the national economy have been reflected in a number of legislative instruments of the Soviet Government on archive management. In particular, the 1980 Statute concerning the State Archives of the USSR singles out the utilization of archive material for national economic purposes as one of the main policy lines for State archives.
Work on arranging for the utilization of documentary resources for national economic purposes is organized by the archives of all countries of the socialist community, on the basis of socio-economic development targets set by Communist Party Congresses.
In the matter of utilization of archive material Soviet archivists are primarily guided by the decisions of the CPSU Congresses and the decisions of the Party and Government regarding economic, scientific and cultural development. At the present-day stage, such programme-setting material is provided by the decisions of the 26th CPSU Congress, which approved the 'Basic lines of economic and social development of the USSR for 1981-1985 and in the period to 1990', and the decisions of the May and November 1982 Plenums of the CPSU Central Committee.
Drawing upon such material, the State archives make documentary information available to ministries, departments and organizations for working out the country's practical socio-economic development tasks, thereby helping to establish the material and technical base of communism. Special impetus was given to the utilization of archive material, for national economic ends included, in the jubilee year of 1982, which was celebrated by all the peoples of the Soviet Union in commemoration of the triumph of Lenin's national policy.
Organizational bases. In all countries of the socialist community archive bodies fulfil a co-ordinating and directing role in organizing the utilization of State records for national economic purposes. This work is provided for in long-term and annual plans of archive institutions and conducted in close contact with interested establishments and organizations.
In planning scientific information activity, a particularly important factor is knowledge of the requirements of the national economy regarding retrospective information. Archives therefore study State and regional economic plans, organize joint discussions with potential users of archive material on matters of information activity and investigate the subject-matter of research conducted via reading rooms. It has become a firmly established practice for many archives in the USSR to harmonize and clarify the subject matter of record disclosure concerning national economic problems with users of documentary information.
Archives conduct theoretical elaboration of the problem of studying social requirements regarding retrospective documentary information. Great interest, for example, is aroused by the work of Bulgarian archivists on 'user demand for documentary information in agriculture', 'user demand for documentary information for social management purposes' and other themes.
In the Soviet Union, in accordance with the 1981-1985 five-year plan for the development of archive administration, a study is made of society's need for retrospective information, and the intensity of record utilization, for national economic purposes included, is investigated.
In the archives of all countries of the socialist community the provision of archival information for the national economy is free of charge. Alongside this, in order to satisfy the maximum number of applications for disclosure of requisite material, inclusive of that serving national economic needs, a number of central State archives of the USSR have established special subdivisions fulfilling the orders of institutions, organizations and enterprises on a contractual basis (for payment according to approved tariffs).
The utilization of material for national economic purposes is, as a rule. organized by trained personnel in close contact with specialists in the various branches of the national economy. For example, such co-operation is effected in connection with the disclosure of material concerning mining (Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic).
The utilization of material for national economic needs in archives of all the countries of the socialist community is recorded by means of an established in-house statistical system, usually on index cards by subject of disclosed material.
Forms of information. In order to provide interested ministries, departments, institutions and organizations with retrospective documentary information, archive establishments adopt a variety of working procedures, including the preparation on their own initiative of information material (letters, reviews, lists, information sheets, etc.); the utilization of surveys on national economic topics; the issuing of material to specialists in reading rooms; the preparation of copies of material or provision of the originals for temporary use; the mounting of documentary exhibitions; the holding of meetings of archive personnel with representatives of interested organizations; and the release of information to the press, radio and television about archive material.
In view of the great importance of the utilization of archive material for national economic development, archivists of all countries of the socialist community take the initiative in providing unsolicited information to interested institutions regarding the availability of material on particular subjects to which recourse may be had when studying specific problems or tackling practical assignments in connection with national economic development.
Many examples can be cited of such exceedingly useful information prepared by archives of the countries of the socialist community. Bulgarian archivists, for instance, provided interested institutions with lists of documents on 'tobacco-growing in the Blagoevgrad area, 1934-1944', 'socialist reorganization of agriculture in the Lovech area, 1944-1958', 'industrial development in the Pleven area, 1900-1947' and other themes.
In the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam information letters were prepared on material concerning investigations of marine currents at the Hamrong Rapids and prevention of silting of the rapids, construction of a deep-water port in Along Bay, the hydrographic regime of rivers, a river-dam system and work on protection against flooding and hurricanes.
Soviet archivists regard the provision of anticipatory information as one of the most important and forward-looking forms of their work. The USSR Central State Archive of the National Economy (CGANH) has informed ministries and departments, research establishments, industrial combines, enterprises and branch scientific and technological information centres about sets of documentary material describing the development of the various branches of the national economy (power engineering, machine-building, the chemical industry, transport, agriculture, etc.). The Central State Archives of Scientific and Technological Documentation of the Byelorussian SSR made available to planners a list of documents on items located along the route of the metropolitan railway under construction. The Central State Archive of Scientific, Technological and Medical Documentation of the Azerbaidjan SSR sent the appropriate organizations information about material on the history of the oil industry, extraction of oil from the sea-bed, the development of deep drilling for oil, and the construction of oil and gas pipelines. Uzbek and Kazakh archivists have provided interested organizations with material containing information about the water resources and irrigation works of those republics.
It should be noted that in most archives of the socialist countries a system exists for the selective distribution of information prepared on the initiative of the archives. In some cases a subscription system operates whereby users can be informed of the availability in the archives of material on a particular topic. Under this system, institutions receiving such information are required to report back to the archives on how it is used.
Archivists in a number of countries (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR) prepare synoptic reports containing both information on existing material and an assessment of its importance to the user. In the Slovak Socialist Republic, for example, such reports are prepared at the request of ministries, government departments and working groups of symposia, seminars, conferences and meetings.
Romanian archives have compiled consolidated reports on 'mining maps of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries', 'prospection for and extraction of ores and other mineral resources', 'works on the study and analysis of mineral deposits', 'land-reclamation projects and plans; and other themes.
Experience has been amassed in the USSR of the preparation of analytical summaries of documents on the development of individual branches of industry that are of assistance to interested organizations in their practical work.
To provide greater opportunities for the utilization of material, archives issue various reference works containing information about material touching upon national economic problems. An example of such a publication is the directory of the holdings of the USSR Central State Archives of the National Economy concerning the history of building organizations between 1917 and 1957. Hungarian archivists have drawn up international consolidated information, the year 1980 seeing the publication of the guide 'Capitals of Europe. Sources for the history of architecture', which contains valuable information on material concerning the history of the cities and the architectural monuments of European capitals. In Bulgaria, brief information publications are brought out on individual archives providing particulars of the largest and most informative archive holdings.
In organizing information activity, archivists of the countries of the socialist community attach great importance to studying and applying the most effective methods of making archival information available to interested institutions. Thus, the Polish research collective 'Informatics and archives' concerns itself with elaborating methods of information work, and also determining advance subject-matter for the disclosure of material of national economic significance. Hungarian archivists are working on a programme for the use of computer technology in keeping a record of holdings and content of archive material, which makes for fuller satisfaction of national economic requirements. Computers are also being used to elaborate a forward-looking programme for the development of Hungarian archives up to the year 2000, one of whose basic tasks is to raise the effectiveness of archive utilization for national economic purposes.
A considerable part of the work of archive institutions is represented by organization of the consultation of material in reading rooms, where national economic specialists are given every opportunity of obtaining exhaustive information on a given subject.
In all archives researchers are able to obtain photocopies and microfilms of material. Essential technical documentation, particularly when it comes in large format, is lent to institutions.
One way in which interested institutions and enterprises are notified of material on national economic subjects is the holding of meetings between archivists and national economic specialists. Archivists now deliver reports more frequently at meetings in scientific institutions and establishments and in enterprises.
Supplying society with the necessary documentary information nowadays requires the devising of new methods of information retrieval for archives, based on modern technology. For this purpose, an automated scientific and technological information system is being established in the Soviet Union, based on the central holdings catalogue of the principle archive of the USSR, together with an automated information retrieval system for the thematic entity 'Architecture and urban development of Moscow, Leningrad and their suburbs'.
Plans for the establishment of automated information retrieval are being actively worked out by Romanian archivists.
Study of the effectiveness of utilization of material. In making documentary information available, archival institutions take great interest in how the information is used and how effective it is. In this connection, account is taken of the interest shown by users in information material as reflected by orders for subsequent thematic amplification of holdings and for copies of material, the sending of specialists for work in archive reading rooms, and the utilization of archive material for preparing national economic plans, scientific studies, and so on.
Furthermore, Romanian archivists include among the criteria of effective utilization of material the growing attention given by institutions using archive material to the organization of their own departmental records.
Archive institutions of all countries of the socialist community regard study of the effectiveness of information work as an important link in the overall system of utilization of material. To this end, they conduct a periodical collection of information from institutions regarding the economic benefit derived from using documentary information in preparing projects for the reconstruction of communication infrastructures, hydrotechnological constructions and urban communication networks, and in the restoration of monuments of history and architecture, and so forth.
Interesting work in this direction has been conducted by archivists in the German Democratic Republic, who have gathered data on the effectiveness of utilization of archive material by ministries, departments and other national institutions over a number of years. In the case of the Freiberg branch of the Dresden State Archive, it has been confirmed on documentary evidence that the annual economic benefit accruing from the utilization of material from that archive alone averages 1.2 million ostmarks.
Archives in Bulgaria and the USSR send out to institutions, together with information documents, specially prepared questionnaires - with a request to complete and return them. On the basis of the information so obtained, Bulgarian archivists prepared scientific studies on the themes: 'The economic effect of utilization of technical documents in the practical work of institutions' and 'Assessing the effectiveness of utilization of archive material'.
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Work on the utilization of material in the interests of the national economy occupies a considerable place in the activity of all archival institutions of the countries of the socialist community. Archives provide party, State and economic organs and scientific institutions with retrospective information, which is of assistance in tackling a great many important practical tasks.
The problem of organizing retrospective information in the interests of economic, cultural and scientific development is nowadays becoming an all important matter for archival institutions. When organizing the utilization of archive material in the interests of the economy - for the purposes of planning, improving organizational structure and management methods and carrying out design and restoration work - archivists make their contribution to the socio-economic development of the socialist countries.
The work of archival institutions in meeting the requirements of the national economy regarding essential retrospective information has been recognized by party and government organs and by ministries, departments, institutions and enterprises. An ongoing task of archivists is to raise the scientific standard of information work, extend anticipatory information for institutions in the economic sector and put this work on a planned footing.
The efficacy of scientific information activity depends to a great extent on knowing retrospective information requirements, which makes it possible to meet not only existing but also potential demand. An important task therefore is to extend contacts and co-operation between archives and ministries and departments, research institutions and industry, chiefly at the work planning stage.
A by no means insignificant aspect is the establishment of feedback from users such as will enable archives to obtain advice in their investigation work concerning requisite retrospective information, and also in turn to provide systematic instruction for representatives of institutions in the economic sector in methods of utilizing archive material.
Questions of improving the work of archives are in a number of countries bound up also with the establishment in State archives of special sections or groups of personnel required to deal solely with the preparation of material to be used for economic purposes, this being the case in Bulgaria and Slovakia. Vietnamese archivists are proposing to discuss the desirability of upgrading archive workers by instructing them in a specific range of skills concerned with major branches of the economy or of involving specialists from economic branches in the work and familiarizing them with archive administration methods.
Of great importance for improving the information work of archives is research connected with elaborating new forward-looking forms and trends in the utilization of material, methods for studying the formation of society's requirements regarding archival information and the trends and patterns of their development.
Archival institutions are faced with a number of tasks concerning improvement of reference arrangements in regard to holdings and the establishment of new information retrieval systems. The successful completion of all these tasks will serve the further advancement of archive administration in the countries of the socialist community, in keeping with the present-day demands made of State archive services.
The special utility of archives for tie developing world
(Report presented to the VIIIth International Congress on Archives, Washington, D.C., 27 September-1 October 1976.)
The subjects chosen for the International Congress on Archives: "The Special Utility of Archives in Developing Countries" has raised numerous problems.
Concerning the topic, we have asked ourselves the following questions:
Concerning the preparation of our study, we were given the freedom to choose our method: to give an authoritative report of our conception of the role of an archival service in developing countries, or to use a questionnaire and then make a synthesis of the results.
We preferred the first method; nevertheless we called upon our colleagues in Senegal, Upper Volta, and Niger and asked them to give us their thoughts upon the subjects.
Only Senegal sent us a reply, and we extend our deepest thanks to our colleague, Mr. Mbaye, for sending us a few lines upon the subject, enabling us not to limit ourselves to the Ivory Coast's conception of archives and their role in the struggle for development.
One of the characteristics of developing countries is that they are faced with many problems occurring at the same time. In fact, these countries must not only make up for their delay, but also must keep up with technological progress in order to attain their objectives.
This special situation leads them to make relatively greater and more numerous efforts at the economic, social, and cultural level than advanced countries.
In order to carry out activities simultaneously in all these areas, under present conditions the developing countries have only one implement: the government. In fact, in the majority of these countries, the government, often still embryonic, is the only truly organized institution. For this reason, it is responsible for programming economic, social and cultural development.
The basis of administrative work is the management of records. This must be done consistently and efficiently. In fact, it must be done not only to avoid wasting time, money, and personnel resources, but also to do everything to ensure that the choices made by the people responsible are the best possible choices. The control of records cannot be achieved unless the people responsible have a complete understanding of how records are created. For this reason, in the developing countries, the archives constitute an inexhaustible source of information upon which the government can always draw.
Therefore, the government must turn to these sources of information in order to carry out their mission. The absence of national archival systems and intermediate records management systems handicaps the administrator, whereas a consistent system of records management and archives administration allows the administrator to contribute effectively to the economic, social, and cultural development of his country. Therefore, archives are an administrative tool and a preliminary necessity for planning national development.
These findings have led certain developing countries like the Ivory Coast to embark upon the utilization of "data processing", a computerized information retrieval system whose uses are related to the economic', scientific, and cultural aspects of development.
On the economic level, these countries have inherited the structures of the colonial economy. Therefore, agriculture was oriented toward the production of raw materials for exportation, whereas industry was devoted to the manufacture of current products. Today, these countries must concentrate upon the development and maximum utilization of agriculture as well as mined resources necessary in order to obtain the currencies provided by exports, and, in addition, to base modern transformation industries upon these resources.
The government is essentially concerned with economic research. The optimum development of the material and human potentialities of developing countries can only be carried out successfully to the extent that these countries' resources are estimated at their true value. Such an estimation implies that a large number of evaluation operations have been carried out successfully, operations which-can only be envisaged if archival documents conserved in the national depositories are available.
Planning constitutes a fine illustration of the role that archives are beginning to play within the framework of economic development. Planning is, in fact, giving consideration to the broad trends in economic, social, and cultural fields. Therefore, planning in itself is a way of organizing the present through a scientific study of the future. Nevertheless, in order to be realistic, planning must be based upon an evaluation of the country's situation which is as complete and as exact as possible. Such an evaluation can be prepared using studies of earlier developments of the amount of progress accomplished over the years in the different sectors of national life.
The information that allows planners to perceive significant trends is contained in archival documents, to which they must refer continuously. For example, working out the details of an industrialization program implies that a very complete examination of raw materials, labor, methods of transportation, cost prices, and markets has been made. This information - statistics, research carried out by the different government services... - puts the planners in a position to make a Judicious choice among the different industrial projects which have been proposed a priori.
This exam-pie of analysis based upon records, especially prepared by the government services responsible for planning, illustrates clearly how important the large amount of information contained in archival documents can be for situations related to economic development. And this development is only one field in which the archives can be of use.
In fact, while very useful for defining and guiding economic development, archives have uses that are no less important in scientific and cultural fields.
In fact, archives are in a position to make a specific contribution to national scientific research in developing countries. National scientific research did not begin with these countries' accession to independence.
For example, in the Ivory Coast, long before the creation of the ministry of scientific research, many research units were in existence:
These institutes conducted various studies in the agricultural field, rightly considered as a basic element in a country's development. In many cases the new nations, when carrying out research, start from studies that were conducted during the colonial era. Conserving records of past experimentation makes it possible to avoid repeating experiments that are sometimes lengthy, difficult, and costly, and leads to appreciable savings of time and money.
On the cultural level in developing countries, it is the government's duty to give the people confidence by helping them to discover their national identity. In this case archives, containing source material indispensable for writing history, are again the privileged auxiliaries of the government.
If, in the majority of European nations, there is no problem of national consciousness, it is not the same for the majority of developing countries. Therefore, in these countries, writing history brings together and unifies seemingly disparate elements that actually arise from the same sources.
Because in many cases history makes it possible to avoid allowing ethnic problems to become an obstacle to the flowering of the country, archives, an unequalled source of materials for serial history, take part in development. The study of budgets, commerce records, and censuses is A fertile field for the statistical historian.
The history of daily life can be seen in a new light through the records of notaries and clerks which have been placed in the record centers of the developing countries.
Because archives make it possible for history to be written, they take part in development and have a special purpose in this field as well.
It is appropriate to refer to a passage from an article by Mr. Locou, Instructor at the Department of Literature of the University of Abidjan, entitled "African History in our time," in order to convince ourselves, if need be, of the special usefulness of archives, containing an unequalled source of historical materials that also take part in national development.
History cannot be simply an academic discipline, indifferent to the problems of development. Some people might be surprised to learn of the relationship between history, a study of society's past, and development, of ten understood to be the only form of material progress. We have moved away from this narrow and over-simple conception of development. Development is a global process of the transformation of society, that must be organized, directed, and maintained from within. Therefore, development implies national agents who are aware of this necessity.
Information and historical reflection are powerful factors in achieving a sense of consciousness; they develop the sense of, and the inclination for, collective action; they make it possible to understand the origin Or present problems, and not only in a concrete way through the examples they provide. Above all, in our countries that have suffered from the depersonalization brought about by colonial domination, history is the privileged instrument for countering alienation: the alienation of youth, the alienation of the people, who are able to shed the heavy burden of old prejudices and to free themselves from complexes accumulated over a long period of time through scientific enlightenment about their condition.
This effort at countering alienation must promote a sense of national consciousness, the acceleration of African unity, and the development of solidarity with other peoples. The restitution of our collective destiny must allow us to affirm our personality, and must liberate our creative initiatives. The diffusion of historical materials, and of the themes which flow from it, must enrich art, literature, and science. The economic, political, and cultural fall-out of all of these historical contributions is incalculable.
For these reasons, history and development are inseparable.
In this way, the archives in developing countries vill be encouraged to play the role of a genuine administrative documentation center, alloying both the collection of records and their management and diffusion at the national level.
So we must progress from a concept of archives, already outdated in developed countries, that has led to the perception of archives only as historically-oriented institutions of little value in development, to a more positive conception; for, henceforth, archives must play a dynamic national role through governmental documentation.
By the richness of records preserved in archives and the increased efficiency of the use of information retrieval, administrators will have an exceedingly useful tool at their disposal. But this possibility of having the archives play a more dynamic role in national development can only be effective if the administrators within the country consider the preservation of records important, as is emphasized in this passage from a speech given by the Secretary of State for the Interior of the Ivory Coast at a seminar on considerations about territorial administration (Yamoussokro, September 20 - October 20, 1974):
Another administrative activity no less important is the establishment and preservation of local archives. The struggle against underdevelopment, a mayor and legitimate concern of the government, encourages the administrator to devote all his efforts to concrete achievements, to seek tangible and visible results, to draw up tables and statistics measuring stresses and physical volumes, all preoccupations which, in many cases, lead this administrator to neglect and to forget other activities, seemingly less important, but equally necessary and important in national development. This is the case for archives.
Far from being an insignificant sector, archives can and must play a more dynamic role in development, provided that we think of them as a treasure of acquired knowledge and administrative experience, a wealth of information that is accessible for use as potential factors in administrative action in all areas of national development.
In this respect no record can better contribute to the understanding and appreciation of these possibilities than archives.
The administrator who turns to archives will grasp the problems he faces more quickly and more completely. He will save not only time but money, two things a developing country cannot allow itself to waste. Therefore, archives are far from being a luxury; they are a utilitarian means of support for a realistic development policy. For this reason, their management and maintenance in an appropriate location, by a person especially appointed for this task, must capture the attention and the interest of local officials.
This passage from the speech of the Secretary of State for the Interior of the Ivory Coast is a good illustration of the role that an archival agency can and must play in a developing country. Considered in this way, the archives becomes a means of support for national development, which is the source of its special usefulness in developing countries.
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