ARCHIVES

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ARCHIVES ; a collection of written documents, containing the ngnts, privileges, claims, treaties, constitutions, &c, of a family, corporation, community, city or kingdom ; also, the place where such documents are kept. There are, accordingly, private and public or state archives. Archives were known among the most ancient people. The Israelites, Greeks and Romans had them in their temples, and the Christians, at first, preserved important manuscripts with the sacred vessels and relics, till proper places were assigned to them. Those governments which transact every thing by writing have, of course, much larger archives than others; thus the archives in every branch of government in Prussia and Austria are immense.According to Wageinselius, the archives of the German empire contain very few documents before the time of the emperor Rodolph of Hapsburg (who was elected in 1273), or even of the subsequent century. At the end of the 15th century, and at the beginning of the 16th, under Maximilian I, the archives of the empire received a new form, and have been preserved with great care. Some historians, (e, g., Schmidt, in his History of the Germans), have made the most diligent and praiseworthy use of them. The modern archives of Prussia are excellently arranged ; probably none are so complete in respect to statistical matters. The English have been so careful in preserving their archives, that other Euroean nations have often found documents ighly important to themselves in London, In France, the archives were dispersed all over the country till the revolution, when, by law of Sept. 7,1790, they were put in a common place of deposit, after a very large quantity of documents had been destroyed. This immense collection of public acts is now in the ancient hotel Soubise, au Marais, in Paris. The laws of Oct. 10, 1792, and Feb. 20, 1793, put the whole management of the archives on a systematic footing. In 1814, June 6, the archives of the navy and the war departments were organized, in order to preserve the historical documents, military memoirs, plans and maps, &c. The archives of the U. States are easily accessible, and proper recommendation will open them to any one who wants to use them for scientific purposes.