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Archival Practice: A Brief Introduction: Welcome!


Purpose of this guide

This library guide provides a brief introduction to several concepts of the archival discipline. It discusses practices that can help achieve proper organization and description of documents, which serves to protect their authenticity and trustworthiness and facilitates their retrievability. While we wanted to cover the more traditional principles of archival practice, we also included more modern concepts, such as the post-custodial model and community archives.

NEH grant project

This guide was created as part of the project titled "Listening to Puerto Rico: The Promise of Oral History On-Campus and Beyond", funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This project included the creation of the Oral History Lab (OHL) of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. The OHL is a space dedicated to the collection, dissemination, and preservation of oral history interviews from across the Puerto Rican archipelago.

Archiving is a central aspect of the oral history process, as oral history interviews should be recorded and made available for future access by researchers and other interested parties. Therefore, the present guide supports the goals of the project by serving as an instructional resource that covers fundamental aspects of archival practice. An understanding of these topics will help ensure that the oral history interviews generated through this initiative are properly organized and retrievable.


Archival practice is a highly complex professional discipline. Ideally, education about archival best practices should be provided by experts with specialized knowledge and experience in real-life scenarios. While the creators of this guide are not professionally trained archivists, we have done our best to become familiar with some of the more fundamental concepts of archival practice in order to provide a basic introduction to the topic. While we believe this guide to be a useful resource, we encourage you to seek out additional sources and guidance from specialists if you are intent on becoming an expert in archival practice.

We hope you find the contents of this guide helpful!


Versión en español


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University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
General Library
Graduate Research and Innovation Center
259 Ave. Alfonso Valdés Mayagüez, PR, 00681
(787) 832-4040, ext. 6229 or 2309