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By Elizabeth Shepherd

Files have the aptitude to alter people's lives. they're 'a primary bulwark of our democracy, our tradition, our neighborhood and private identification' (National Council of Archives). they're created to allow the behavior of commercial and aid responsibility, yet additionally they meet the calls for of a democratic society's expectancies for transparency and the safety of rights. they're the uncooked fabric of our historical past and reminiscence. Archivists and files managers are the pros answerable for making sure that those features are secure and exploited for the general public sturdy. This e-book seeks to appreciate how documents and archivists in England constructed through the twentieth century. the writer examines the political and legislative context, analyzes how archival associations built in neighborhood and valuable executive, and in companies and universities, and discusses the expansion of the archival career through formal societies and schooling and coaching. even if the ebook specializes in twentieth century England, advancements are traced from the general public list workplace Act in 1838 via to the formation of The nationwide files in 2003. additionally, the writer in brief discusses the comparative improvement of documents in continental Europe, america, Canada and Australia, thereby supplying a context for the historical past of English files.

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The primary purpose of the 1922 Act was to amend the law of real and personal estate, including abolishing copyhold, but its provisions, incidentally, gave statutory protection to manorial documents. The Act provided for the inspection of manorial court rolls, which were ‘deemed to be documents of such a public nature as to be admissible in evidence’. The 1924 Act extended the protection significantly. All manorial documents, except deeds of title, were to be ‘under the charge and superintendence of the Master of the Rolls’ and the lord of the manor could not ‘destroy or damage wilfully such documents’.

The Commission also heard from Arthur Doughty, Dominion Archivist of Canada, and researched the arrangements in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Commission noted the complementary role of the HMC for private and semi-public local records. The Commission examined the operation of the 1877 Act and concluded that the system for the transfer of ‘useless’ documents to local public institutions was not effective. Compared with practices abroad, the PRO provided the most centralised concentration of public records, since there was no provision for state or regional public record offices in England.

It provided for the transfer of county quarter session property, including records, to the new county councils and made local record offices based on county councils viable. Some county councils established record committees and archives services: Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Worcestershire were the first to do so. The Local Government Act 1894 confirmed county responsibilities for records. In addition, while parish registers and other records ‘relating to the affairs of the church or to ecclesiastical charities’ remained with the incumbent and churchwardens, all other parish records became the responsibility of the parish council, who could deposit them elsewhere.

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