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original order


(also registry principle, respect for original order, l'ordre primitif, respect de l'ordre intérieur), n. ~ The organization and sequence of records established by the creator of the records.


Original order is a fundamental principle of archives. Maintaining records in original order serves two purposes. First, it preserves existing relationships and evidential significance that can be inferred from the context of the records. Second, it exploits the record creator's mechanisms to access the records, saving the archives the work of creating new access tools.

Original order is not the same as the order in which materials were received. Items that were clearly misfiled may be refiled in their proper location. Materials may have had their original order disturbed, often during inactive use, before transfer to the archives; see restoration of original order.

A collection may not have meaningful order if the creator stored items in a haphazard fashion. In such instances, archivists often impose order on the materials to facilitate arrangement and description. The principle of respect for original order does not extend to respect for original chaos.

(Guercio 2001, p. 249) Since files and series reflect the aggregation of records in relation to the activity undertaken, this order should be maintained not only during the phase when the records are current, but also in the phase of preservation, whether through the identification of records selected for preservation or for purposes of research, in order to guarantee the possibility of meaningful future use.