Forget petrol station flowers, last minute chocolates and greetings cards with pre-written poetry â€“ anniversaries are very important at The National Archives.
If youâ€™re an avid reader of the blog youâ€™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,Â 40 years since the Flixborough disaster, and theÂ 450th anniversary of Shakespeareâ€™s birth.
Well today Iâ€™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 thatâ€™s right – this year marks 60 years since the publication of the Report from the Committee on Departmental Records, akaÂ the Grigg Report. I know, can you believe itâ€™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 â€˜public recordsâ€™. 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 Iâ€™ll focus my attention on one of the most important. So please now turn your copy of the report to page 32 youâ€™ll find within paragraph 67:
â€˜We therefore recommend that each Department should appoint an officer â€“ whom we shall call the ‘Departmental Record Officer’ â€“ to be responsibleâ€¦ for the care of its papers from the time they are created or first received in the department, until they are disposed ofâ€¦ It is important that the Departmental Record Officer should control â€“ or at least know the whereabouts â€“ of all papers in the department.â€™
Yes 1954 saw the inception of the â€˜Departmental Record Officerâ€˜ role â€“ a recommendation noted as the â€˜keystoneâ€™ 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?