n.the practice of managing archival records and organizationsCuervo 2015, 274The book is a useful tool for taking a novice archivist through the motions of the archival enterprise.Gracy 1989, 13Promotion/ marketing / outreach—call it what you will—this now is as essential an activity of archival enterprise as gathering, appraising, and so on through the litany, ever were. In an increasingly complex and financially uncertain world, we must continually sell our service.NARA 1938, 237There is an advisory commission composed of public men both within and without the government which in addition to supervising publication and advising on other phases of archival enterprise passes upon lists of records which the administrative departments propose to destroy.Pearce-Moses 2013, 6We must find our voice, to articulate a clear, simple message to plead the value of archives, to recommend and defend the archival record. We must develop a plan to communicate that message to a wide range of stakeholders and to the public at large. And, most important, we must recognize that advocacy is an equally important a part of the archival enterprise and that it demands time and energy to implement and sustain the plan.
Although archivists generally associate the term archival enterprise with David B. Gracy II and his 1984 presidential address at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, the term predates that use by almost fifty years—although that first use did not conceive of the term as grandly as Gracy eventually did. Since Gracy’s most famous employment of the term, archivalenterprise has become significantly more popular and has extended in meaning to include both coordinated archival endeavors within a single archival institution, those within groups of such institutions, and even the archival profession as a whole. What is clear from his writing is the idea that archivists—the leaders of this enterprise—must be energetic managers of their archivalmission (however they imagine its boundaries), ensuring it focuses on the active promotion ofarchival services to society, the development of active outward-looking archival institutions, and a concentration on the human value of records, especially in and by the present.Not every use of the term perfectly complies with this vision for it, yet every one of them carriesthe aura of the word enterprise, which always implies complexity, interconnectedness of parts, and the need for tenacity and vision. The term works because it suggests dynamism, thus undermining the concept of archives as places paper goes to rot. Interestingly, Gracy has said of his earliest use of the term (in 1975), “I avoided the term ‘archival repository,’ because I wanted to encourage us archivists to re-orient our thinking from staid, sedentary repository to the actions we take in doing our jobs—thus enterprise” (Gracy to Geof Huth, email, 25 August 2015).