Background - ICA History
The idea for an international council on archives had long been around (the Institute for Intellectual Co-operation had made a first attempt after the First World War) when it finally became a reality in 1948. There were several contributory factors. The first was the choice of Paris as the site of the headquarters of UNESCO, the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which in the immediate post-war years was concerned with promoting non governmental organizations (NGO) in its field. In 1946, under the influence of an American conservator Chauncey J Hamlin, an international council for museums (ICOM) was set up. Following the establishment of an Experts Group and a first general assembly in Mexico, a general conference met in Paris from 29 June to 3 July 1948 and Georges-Henri Rivière was appointed director of ICOM. On a very similar model, following the distribution of proposals at the international level in the autumn of 1947, and under the influence and tenacity of Dr Buck, then Archivist of the United States, a small group of experts met in Paris and agreed on 9 June 1948 to establish an "International Council on Archives", with the Director-General of the Archives de France, Charles Samaran, as chairman. Charles Braibant succeeded him in 1950. The first assembly of the Council was held following a meeting of the group of experts in Paris, on the 21 and 22 August 1950, at the UNESCO headquarters.
From an association of directors of national institutions, the ICA has evolved towards a more complex organisation bringing together professional associations and individual archivists interested in researching, developing, and sharing their full range of archival expertise. Today, the ICA has become the professional organisation for the world archival community, dedicated to promoting the preservation, development, and use of the world's archival heritage. It brings together national archive administrations, professional associations of archivists, regional and local archives and archives of other organisations as well as individual archivists.
The activities of the ICA complement those of national associations and institutions and continue to be an exclusive source and channel of professional expertise in those regions where national associations do not yet exist. Through its branches, ICA provides a basis for exchange and common initiatives at the regional level, more closely aligned to specific needs resulting from particular environments. ICA sections, established along professional interests, address other types of concern and stimulate research and information exchange in more specific areas: they bring together in their respective forums leaders of professional associations, archival educators as well as archivists of international organisations, municipalities, businesses and labour bodies, churches, universities, parliaments and political parties as well as those specialised in architectural records. Other sections are currently being formed for specialists in archival standards and best practices, literature and art archives, notarial records, sports archives, military records and sigillography. ICA forms ad-hoc committees and working groups at various levels to work on specific projects and activities in support of its four strategic priority areas: advocacy and promotion; electronic records, records management and automation; preservation and protection against disasters; and professional education and training.
As the leading international non-governmental organisation (NGO) for archives and archivists, ICA continues to work in cooperation with UNESCO and NGOs in related areas to realise shared objectives. ICA's close cooperation with UNESCO is demonstrated by the publication of the RAMP (Records and Archives Management Programme) Studies. Currently, it is supported through regular financial contributions to support various ICA projects.