Forget petrol station flowers, last minute chocolates and greetings cards with pre-written poetry – anniversaries are very important at The National Archives.
If you’re an avid reader of the blog you’ll no doubt have seen some of our 2014 milestone marking pieces, including: the centenary of the First World War, 70 years since D-day, 40 years since the Flixborough disaster, and the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
Well today I’m going to focus my blog on one of the lesser known anniversaries of 2014. I invite you all to get calendars at the ready, and celebrate with me an event that changed the face of modern government archiving practices.
Yes that’s right – this year marks 60 years since the publication of the Report from the Committee on Departmental Records, aka the Grigg Report. I know, can you believe it’s been 60 years already?
The report laid the foundations for the Public Records Act 1958, ending the haphazard legal position with respect to duties of custody and disposal of ‘public records’. Not only that, but it also established a system for reviewing government records that was still used decades after publication.
It would take a whole series of blogs to cover all of the principal recommendations from the report, so today I’ll focus my attention on one of the most important. So please now turn your copy of the report to page 32 you’ll find within paragraph 67:
‘We therefore recommend that each Department should appoint an officer – whom we shall call the ‘Departmental Record Officer’ – to be responsible… for the care of its papers from the time they are created or first received in the department, until they are disposed of… It is important that the Departmental Record Officer should control – or at least know the whereabouts – of all papers in the department.’
Yes 1954 saw the inception of the ‘Departmental Record Officer‘ role – a recommendation noted as the ‘keystone’ of all proposals within this section of the Grigg report. But here we are 60 years on, operating in a world dominated by mobile technology, social media and Game of Thrones. How then has the Departmental Record Officer role changed, and why is it more important than ever?