3 minutes reading time (514 words)

Why Should We Keep Historical Documents?

Many of us will, or have relatives that, store letters, photographs and other artefacts of their families from the past. There is always a great fascination in discovering what there is to learn from these historic documents, using invaluable information and insight that can only be gained from the evidence found in this actual, original file. If you take the immediate value that can be gained from learning about ones family history and apply it to a worldwide, ‘family wide’ scale, then we begin to see why so many think that we should keep historical documents and preserve them forever, using document and heritage scanning as a way to do so.

On a personal level, historic documents can hold an incredible sentimental value. One family’s well-stored archive can connect future generations to relatives of the past, showcasing the remarkable resemblances and traits that continue to be passed down throughout a family tree. But keeping historical documents can also give us an important insight into bygone eras, showing us important information that affects the way in which we perceive the world to this day.

One such example of this is the Domesday Book, a manuscript record that was first completed in 1086. Compiled as a survey of England and Wales, by order of King William the Conqueror, many believe the purpose of this original text was to establish the outstanding tax that had been owed during King Edward the Confessor’s reign. The information that was noted in this book was widely accepted as being wholly factual, recorded permanently. This was the most extensive survey of its time, not to be matched again until 1873. Consequentially, the Domesday Book has been imperative in helping historians understand how Europe, and world, operated during this time.

The Domesday Book was first produced in a bound paper manuscript, now held at The National Archives, and has since gone through many methods of preservation using the technology available at the time of its conservation. Rather than being kept and stored away from public use in order to protect the important text from damage, the text has been accessible online since 2008. Without book scanning and document management technology, this wouldn’t be possible.

Although the Domesday Book is perhaps the most notable and oldest case of historic documents proving their importance, other key publications from the past include texts such as the Magna Carta, The Origin of Species and The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank’s diary), all of which respectively have informed future generations of times long before them, helping to shape our views of history, science, culture and beyond.

It is imperative that we continue to preserve the primary sources of such invaluable information, and advances in document scanning and heritage scanning continue to make this happen using digital conservation methods.


At Pearl Scan, we have scanning technology that is capable of handling a wide range of formats including photographs, glass plate scanning, cine film scanning as well as audio and video digitisation. To learn more about the digital conservation solutions available at Pearl Scan, head online. 

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