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Organising Family Archives


The International Council on Archives’ online learning course “Organising Family Archives” is designed to provide simple practical guidance on looking after these precious family artefacts. The course explores taking care of family archives, covering what they are, how to organise and list them, how to package and look after them so that they are properly preserved, what should be kept and what can be discarded, the particular requirements for ensuring computer records will be accessible and readable in the future, how to create digital copies to share with family members and planning your project to identify, document and preserve the family archives. There are also references to useful resources. 

The course consists of the following sections: 

  • About this course: guidance for learners new to ICA’s online learning platform, overview of the course and the learning outcomes 
  • Family Archives: what they are and how they are different from other information forms 
  • Organising Archives: how to inventory the family archive, how to establish and document a structure and why this is important  
  • Deciding what to Keep: why we don’t keep all records and information for ever, how to choose what to keep 
  • Keeping Family Archives: how to handle, package and store archives in traditional formats to ensure they are properly preserved for future generations 
  • Managing Digital Archives: how to create, save, take in and preserve family archives in digital formats so they can be found and used over time 
  • Digitising Family Archives: why and how to digitise family archives 
  • Action Plan: how to manage your family archives project 
  • Wrap-up: conclusion and advice on next steps 

The course is intended for the general public, no prior knowledge of using or working in archives is necessary. If you have collected or inherited papers and photographs that document your family and want to ensure that they can be understood and used by future generations, this is the course for you. It has been developed and written by Margaret Crockett, ICA’s Training Officer, who is a qualified archivist and consultant with experience in providing beginners with support and guidance in looking after personal or organisational archives.

Available in English and French, the “Organising Family Archives” course includes downloadable presentations, documents and videos, plus quizzes for you to test your understanding. Most of the sections contain an optional exercise designed to help you begin work on organising your own family archives. Together these sections amount to a total of 6 hours. You have 3 months to complete the full course. Course materials can be downloaded on to computers, smartphones and tablets and require an internet connection. Learners who finish the course and have passed the quiz tests with 60% correct answers will be able to download a certificate of completion.  

Non member rate: 50,00 €
Member rate: