(Version 2.3) Authorised by the Executive Member for Libraries and Heritage and published March 2008
Standards and general background
1.Wiltshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council hereby publish their Archives Acquisition and Disposal Policy, which will be reviewed at five-yearly intervals (or more often if required). Minor variations to the Policy will be indicated by the version number after the decimal point (for example, 2.1, 2.2); major variations will be indicated by the version number before the point (for example 3.0, 4.0 and so on). The senior officer responsible for the design and implementation of this policy is the Principal Archivist. Revisions to the Policy will only be published with the authorisation of the Executive Member responsible for the archive service.
2.Acquisitions outside the current policy will only be made in exceptional circumstances and then only after proper consideration by the Principal Archivist, in order to minimise conflict and duplication with other repositories. Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will always aim to locate the most appropriate repository for records which come into its purview, as far as is reasonably possible.
3.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives was set up under the auspices of the 1947 Local Government Act. Subsequently, the Local Government (Records) Act 1962 empowered Wiltshire County Council to acquire records of local significance over and above its own administrative records; to care for them and make them available for study by the public. In addition, the provision of the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives fulfilled the requirement under the Local Government Act 1972 (s.224) for local authorities to 'make proper arrangements with respect to any documents that belong to or are in the custody of the council or any of their officers'.
4.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives is appointed by the Lord Chancellor as a place of deposit for public records, under the terms of the Public Records Acts, 1958 and 1967. The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives is recognized by the Secretary of the National Archives: Historical Manuscripts Commission as a suitable place of deposit for manorial documents in accordance with the Manorial Documents Rules 1959, and the Manorial Documents (Amendment) Rules, 1963 and 1967. The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives is also recognized by the Master of the Rolls as an approved place of deposit for tithe records under the Tithe (Copies of Instruments of apportionment) Rules 1960, as amended by the Tithe (Copes of Instruments of Apportionment) (Amendment) Rules 1963
5.The Church of England Diocese of Salisbury has designated Wiltshire and Swindon Archives as its designated diocesan record office in accordance with the Parochial Registers and Records Measure, 1978. In addition, the Diocese of Bristol has agreed to deposit records from the Archdeaconry of Malmesbury (which includes the Deanery of Swindon) in the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives. Records of parishes which have not yet deposited are subject to five-yearly inspections by diocesan representatives.
Scope and definition of policy
6.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will acquire records Records have been defined by the International Council on Archives as: “recorded information produced or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an institutional or individual activity and that comprises content, context and structure sufficient to provide evidence of the activity.” Archives are records which have been selected for permanent preservation by an archivist. of varied dates, formats (including hand-written, printed, pictorial, audiovisual and electronic) and subject matter, which relate to or principally relate to the Lieutenancy County of Wiltshire, comprising the areas of the administrative County of Wiltshire and the Borough of Swindon.
7.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, following consultation with other repositories about their collecting policies, may choose to hold records relating to other geographical areas but only when:
a) they form part of a larger collection which primarily relates to the Lieutenancy County of Wiltshire;
b) they were created by an individual or organisation with a significant connection with the Lieutenancy County of Wiltshire, and there is no conflict with an alternative repository; or
c) they form a collection (for example one relating to multiple counties) for which the Principal Archivist is satisfied there is no obvious alternative repository with a pre-eminent claim.
8.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will acquire records of organisations, businesses, churches, societies, other public and private institutions, and individuals and of various activities relevant to the history and life of the area of the administrative County of Wiltshire and the Borough of Swindon. These specifically include:
- (a)archives of Wiltshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council and their predecessors;
- (b)records of other local authorities within the administrative areas of Wiltshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council;
- (c)records of statutory bodies operating within the administrative areas of the County of Wiltshire and Borough of Swindon or over the whole area of the Lieutenancy County of Wiltshire or over the area of more than one of the two authorities;
- (d)public records offered to the Service under the terms of the Public Records Acts and relating principally to the defined area;
- (e)records of the Church of England parishes, rural deaneries and peculiars in the defined area;
- (f)records of the bishop and archdeaconries of the diocese of Salisbury;
- (g)records of the Great Western Railway Company, the Midland and South Western Junction Railway Company, and the Western Region of British Railways not selected by either the National Archives or National Railway Museum.
9.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives seeks to reflect the changes and development in Wiltshire and Swindon communities by acquiring records from as wide a range of organisations as possible.
10.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will give preference to the storage of documents in a tangible format, when a choice between electronic and hard copy is offered. However, it will still endeavour to preserve electronic records indefinitely, when a hard copy is not available, in accordance with its Digital Preservation Strategy. It does not guarantee to migrate data to the next generation of hardware and software, but will keep this policy under review in the light of changes in technology.
11.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will acquire records by transfer, gift, purchase, and deposit on loan, for specific purposes or periods of time, in accordance with the current terms and conditions. The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will take all reasonable steps to establish the legal title to records and reserves the right to refuse to take records where the legal ownership is significantly in doubt. Should a collection, subsequent to transfer, be found to be illegally in its possession, there will be full cooperation with the police and judicial system to transfer the records to their rightful owner.
Access to records
12.The archives will be catalogued as part of the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives’ programme of cataloguing archives in its custody with the view to allowing public access, subject to any requirements of confidentiality and/or the wishes of the owners, within the legislative framework of the Data Protection Act, 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2000. In addition, the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will seek to grant access to archives in various formats, as far as is reasonably possible. Specialist equipment will be acquired, where this is affordable and available. Uncatalogued archives may not always be physically produced to researchers for reasons of preservation and security, but the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will abide by the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in granting access to information contained within them.
13.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will participate in the annual survey of accessions by the National Archives, and will undertake a review at that time as to how far the records received fall within the acquisition policy. The results of the review will be published as part of the Libraries and Heritage branch annual report (May/June of each year.) The public will gain access to information on new accessions via the National Archives summaries, and also via internal newsletters and exhibitions.
14.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will publish the Acquisition and Disposal policy, once confirmed, within its premises at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, and also on the Wiltshire County Council website.
Ownership and disposal/transfer of records
15.Documents held together by the original archival unity will not normally be divided, nor any item selected or removed in detriment to that unity. Where, however, a large collection falls into clearly discrete parts, there may be a case for the records being divided and transferred to more suitable repositories. The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives shall have authority to transfer groups of documents to a more suitable repository, if it is found that they belong more properly with records in another repository, and where appropriate, with the agreement of the owner.
16.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives shall, in accordance with the wishes and requirements of donors and depositors, evaluate and select for destruction or return to the owners, documents not deemed worthy of permanent preservation. Evaluation of documents is made on the basis of their potential historical importance and their uniqueness within the local and national context. Documents will not be destroyed without the prior permission of owners, or where there is a legal requirement to keep them. Unpublished material containing personal data, such as names of individuals, will only be destroyed using a confidential method of waste disposal.
17.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives appreciates the need to liaise closely with other collecting institutions regarding the acquisition of documents in which there may be a common interest.
18.The Wiltshire and Swindon Archives reserves the right to refuse to take any item from any donor or depositor if:it falls outside the Acquisition and Disposal policy and the Principal Archivist does not wish to make an exceptionit poses a threat to the health and safety of Wiltshire County Council staff or members of the public (e.g. nitrate-based cinefilm)it requires specialist intervention to preserve and the costs are deemed unreasonably expensive by the Principal Archivist – for example to be able to read computerised records in obsolete formats – with a right of appeal to the Assistant Director for Libraries and Heritage. In the case of any of these occurring, the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives will endeavour to give advice and guidance to the owners, as far as it is able to.