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Bank Archives: The Wells Fargo Corporate Archives

The archival records of financial institutions typically comprise: charter and organizational documents, such as articles of incorpor­ ation; stockholder records relative to the capitalization of the institu­ tion; board of directors records., such as minutes of meetings; office files and correspondence files of executive officers and key project administrators; financial and operational records of key divisions, departments and committees; and then a wealth of intriguing ma­ terial, commonly referred to as "memorabilia," or "ephemera", or "special collection", comprised of photographs, artifacts, clip­ pings, oral histories, printed materials, memos, reports, and data of one sort or another that does not conveniently fit into any other ar­ chival record group or series. In sum, an archives is the closest thing to a mirror reflection of itself that a financial institution will ever have. It is the equivalent of a first person plural corporate memory, even when the singular memories of employees and out­ side observers have faded or been forgotten. An archives is, in ef­ fect, a unique and special corporate asset. Whether the archives of financial institutions are organized ac­

cording to archival principles is another matter. In 1980, when the Society of American Archivists published its last Directory of Busi­ ness Archives in the United States and Canada, only 25 financial in­ stitutions in the U.S. and Canada responded that they had an ar­ chive-though their notations about holdings were rather curious,

varying from 15 feet to several thousand feet. At the thousands of other financial institutions in the U.S. and Canada, the archival function and resources are undoubtedly divided and maintained by a bewildering array of officers and clerks in a wide range of depart­ ments throughout each organization. The records exist. They have to. But there is no collective sense of archives. Looking at it in a dif­ ferent way, if organized archival collections are seen as a positive thing, then the trend is a positive one, for an increasing number of institutions in the 1970s and early 1980s have set up archival func­ tions.