n.the practice of managing archival records and organizationsNARA 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.Gracy 1975, 116Atlanta boasts a collection of archival enterprises as rich as is to be found anywhere in the United States.Fleckner 1982, 231The psychological stress archivists frequently feel is likely to increase in today’s environment because archivists frequently work in isolation from others who understand and sympathize with their concerns and because an exclusive emphasis on quantitative measures cannot do justice to some of the fundamental purposes of the archival enterprise.Pederson 1984, 35Richard Cox recently reminded the American archival profession yet again that our “past is prologue” and described the history of archival enterprise in the United States as weak, uneven, and full of large and numerous holes.Gracy 1985, 17Promotion / 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.Gracy 1986, 4What he had to say was instructive and revealing about how we are perceived, and his findings offer solid ground for framing our course of action to combat our unsatisfactory image and thereby to improve the support of archival enterprise.Widener 1991, 18While preservation should not be the ultimate goal of archival enterprise, it is also true that it is impossible to use records that are poorly preserved.Gracy 1989, 76Archival enterprise is required to expose the rich informational content to the prospective user.Dearstyne 1993, ixThe Archival Enterprise . . . As the title implies, the book maintains that professional archival work is an enterprise—a big, bold, and sometimes difficult undertaking requiring energy and initiative.Komor 1993, 55If, according to Craig, our profession currently takes “a broad view outward, to [its] relationship with other professionals, with society, and to the future,” we often lack the wider view when it comes to the study of our profession’s past. And yet, establishing the closely woven historical relationships between the archival enterprise and the larger cultural sphere will complement our understanding of the body of knowledge we call archival science, just as the history of the book trade or of fifteenth-century Venice complement analytic bibliography.Cross 1997, 6Yet the increasing use of automation for access, the increasing creation of more archival material in electronic form, changes in communication and philosophical disputes concerning the nature of the archival enterprise have led to a questioning of current practice.Fisher 1998, 330The archival enterprise is the matrix of legal and non-legal relationships underpinning archival institutions (and connecting them to their stakeholders including agencies and users of records). It provides advice, has responsibility to promulgate standards and norms and has responsibilities in relation to historical records or records of public interest. The archival institution is maintained on a not-for-profit basis and where it is intended that its records are to be accessed by the public.Greene 2006, 19Transferring deaccessioned collections to another repository can be time consuming but reflects, I think, the best character of the archival enterprise.Gracy 2008By “archival enterprise” I mean the dynamic delivery of the archival service to society. The archival service consists of providing the inexhaustible well of source material from which society’s memory is fashioned and continually reviewed, elaborated, and debated.Hackman 2009, 438I believed then, and believe now, that the archival enterprise nationwide benefits from a reliable, ongoing, and systematic assessment and reporting of conditions linked to a process to recommend priorities and strategies.Greene 2010, 175–176The general principles of MPLP derive from fundamental statements about the archival enterprise, namely that “use is the end of all archival effort”; that substantial backlogs of collections not only hinder use but threaten repositories by undermining confidence of both resource allocators and donors; that in making processing decisions archivists should consider—not the traditions of the past—but the mission, audience, and resources of the present; and that collections and even series should be assessed individually using the most rational, user-friendly approach.Jimerson 2010, 20With the numerous changes and fresh perspectives on the archival enterprise that have emerged in recent years, it is time for us to reconsider the goals, perspectives, and components of archival education. The growing complexity of modern institutional needs and information technology options demands a greater sophistication in archival education programs.Bain et al. 2011, 31So, it seems, our task as archivists to increase use of archives (and win supporters for the archival enterprise) is not accomplished simply by our massive efforts to populate the internet with archival information.Cuellar 2013, 1Learning to process archival collections as an intern or student processor constitutes many archivists’ first practical understanding of the archival enterprise. Though this experience is an excellent hands-on opportunity for many nascent archivists to sharpen their project management skills, it does not fully prepare them to manage an archival processing program.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.Eveleigh 2014, 221Participant ‘energy’ is sought to promote the sustainability of the archival enterprise by widening the pool of advocates for the activities of archives.Noonan and Chute 2014, 213Even so, it is not presumptuous to suggest that the value-added skills—core to the archival enterprise—that archivists provide may include the appraising and selecting of materials, as well as the administration and management of the materials by assisting in describing, organizing, and providing intellectual control.Gracy 2014So what do I mean by the archival enterprise? Providing the archival service to each and all levels of society.Cuervo 2015, 274The book is a useful tool for taking a novice archivist through the motions of the archival enterprise.Gracy 2015Whether I fully recognized it at the moment of inception, “archival enterprise” proved to be a valuable term for engaging people about archives. However much they stereotyped archives as old stuff and the work in archival repositories as “interesting” (damning it by faint praise), the word “enterprise” suggested to them something in the business realm. That perked them up. What kind of “enterprise”—private or corporate or something else—was this archival thing? I loved, and still do, the opening the term provides to engage people regarding the archival contribution to them and the society of which they are a member.Lee 2018, 16I’d encourage potential authors to think of trends and issues in the wider world that touch on the “archival enterprise” broadly conceived. For example, there are important discussions related to inclusion, diversity, and social justice. There are many fields and communities shaping the future of digital collection, and our journal should reflect those wider sets of activities.Lee 2019, 3A major part of the archival enterprise is conveying meaningful information between contexts over time. This process is never free. It requires resources (human, technical, financial). Ensuring a steady flow of resources over time is difficult.Zanish-Belcher 2019a, 18The political spoils of our election system do have consequences on the historical record and have a direct impact on the efficacy of the archival enterprise.
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, archival enterprise 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 archival mission (however they imagine its boundaries), ensuring it focuses on the active promotion of archival 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 carries the 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, August 25, 2015).