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Preservation guide for private records

There are rules and regulations concerning the preservation and deposit of records that originate from public administration authorities, municipalities and Finnish government authorities. What comes to the preservation of records of private origin, it is entirely up to the owner of the records, how they are preserved. On this page you can find general guidelines on how to keep private records.

What to preserve?

The archives of a business, an association, or a private individual differ a lot in nature, and so do the records that ought to be preserved. Records of private individuals, families and farms often consist of photographs, diplomas, letters and notes, as well as diaries, passbooks and many other documents that can function as valuable source materials of times that have passed. A wide variety of records are formed in the activities of a business or an association. Their archives often consist of ingoing and outgoing mail, meeting agendas and minutes, registries of members/clients, financial reports, ledgers, project documents, statistics, photographs, maps and blueprints among others. It is hard to give an exact answer as to what should be kept in a private archive – this should always be considered case by case – but “rather too much than too little” is a good rule of thumb.

It is best to keep all the records that belong to or concern an individual, a business or an association in the same place, so that the archives can be stored and deposited as a single unit. 

How to protect your records?

Some basic guidelines apply to the caretaking of records in a private archive. The most important thing is to keep the documents together and keep them protected from humidity and extreme temperatures. The best place to store documents is in a cool, dry place with little fluctuations in temperature. Avoid storing documents in a cellar or an attic. Light is also deleterious to paper and photographs, so limit exposure to light as much as possible. It is best to remove all rubber bands, paper clips and tape as well as plastic maps and folders from the documents, as these can have a deteriorating effect on paper. Use acid-free storage boxes and containers when possible because regular carton can contain harmful chemicals.

Published 30.10.2018
Updated 30.7.2019