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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 966 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA The records, among which transcripts made in England, France, and Holland hold an important place, may be divided into: Federal, kept at Washington; those in private collections; and State Records at the various state capitals. The publication and care of all these are often the work of private bodies subsidized or recognized by government. Thus, although Federal archives are now centralized under the charge of the head of the division of Manuscripts in the Library of Congress, which office is acquiring important collections of the papers of former presidents, and may also have transferred to it departmental records not in current use, publication of guides is the concern of the historical section of the Carnegie Institution and of the Archives Commission of the Historical Association. The same association explores private collections through its Historical Manuscripts Commission; and numerous societies publish state records. Some states, however, have themselves published American and European documents relating to their history; and mention must be made of the large series of American Archives and State Papers published from 1832 onwards by Congress. 966 The best guide for Federal records is the work of Leland and Valentine; for a general bibliographical work of reference see E. C. Burnett's List of Printed Guides . . . (Historical MSS. Commission Report, 1897). EXTRAVAGANTIA In various ways records are apt to wander from their proper custody and to lose their legal character. But in spite of this loss the historian is bound to pursue them either into the hands of private collectors or on to the shelves of some museum. No attempt can be made to discuss private collections or the manuscripts of foreign libraries. Even among English libraries it must be sufficient to mention the British Museum as the principal destination of wandering records. Of the collections in that library the most important to the student of records are the Cottonian, the Harleian and the Lansdowne, all catalogued by the Record Commission; the Additional, catalogued from time to time as fresh matter accrues; the Egerton, catalogued with the Additional; the Sloane and the Stowe, both catalogued: No distinction is made between documents that have been technically " records " and others. The whole collection is divided technically into Manuscripts, by which are meant volumes, and Charters and Rolls, meaning detached documents. To the latter class an Index locorum, compiled by H. F. Ellis and F. B. Bickley, has been printed. (C. G. CR.)
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