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1. What are historical records?

Historical records are the raw materials of history. The words "historical records" make many people think of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, a letter from Theodore Roosevelt, or the Communist Manifesto. Certainly these are important historical records, but they are not the only valuable ones.

There are many other kinds of information created by groups, individuals and organizations that have enduring value. They may include written documents such as wills, tax assessment records, letters, military service records, and birth records -- and visual resources such as photographs, maps, posters, films, and architectural drawings. With the growing use of the computer, documents might be automated databases of marriages, crime statistics, or computerized maps. Records such as these exist in many countries.

Historical records can be hundreds or thousands of years old -- or they may have been created today. All historical records contain useful information about people, places, events, and subjects information that people need or can use in accomplishing their daily activities.

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