The Laws Of Archivy

Compiled by Terry Abraham.

Originally published in the SAA Newsletter, July 1984, and since amended and appended. Transcribed by Mimi Bowling.

These profound bits of wisdom are variously attributed to F. Gerald Ham, Terry Abraham, John Fleckner, Stephen Balzarini, Judy Combs, Anne Frantilla, Bruce Stark, and Roy Webb.

  1. When in doubt, throw it out.
  2. What is backlog is prologue; or, there are no temporary solutions.
  3. Garbage is garbage, no matter how long you keep it.
  4. If you've seen one archives, you've seen them all.
  5. If it doesn't fit in the box, fold it; if you can't fold it, toss it.
  6. The thoroughness of appraisal is inversely proportional to the remaining space.
  7. The value of an archives to an institution is directly proportional to the amount of natural light provided for it.
  8. Archival Rule of Threes: if a donor says he has a box to pick up, bring three; if they say they have three boxes, bring nine, and so on.

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