Access to Public Records
The archives in the custody of the National Archives are preserved so that they may be used by the community. All archives held at the National Archives ultimately become open to the public after a 30 year closure period. However, some series or collections of archives must be restricted to public access for a longer time
Unlike published materials, archives are primary records which were not created for the purposes of public dissemination. They were usually created as records of business. Because of their significant informational value, these records are determined to be archives.
Therefore archives may contain sensitive, confidential and personal information. In view of this, it is necessary to restrict access to some archives in order to protect the privacy of individuals or to safeguard confidentiality
Access to government archives held by the National Archives is determined in accordance with Part IV of the National Records and Archives Act, No. 22 of 2001 which provides that all public records shall be closed for a period of thirty years. Some records may be closed for a longer period, on grounds of
– national security
– maintenance of public order
– safeguarding revenue
– protection of the privacy of living individuals
ACCESS TO PRIVATE AND ORGANISATIONAL ARCHIVES
The conditions of access to personal archives and archives of organisations are determined by the persons or organisations who deposited them with the National Archives.
While the majority of deposited archival collections are immediately open to researchers, a small group will have some access restrictions imposed upon them. The most common restriction is having to seek written permission from the depositor to gain access. A less common restriction, usually associated with personal archives, is the denial of access until after the depositor is deceased.
When written permission is required for access to certain archives collections, the staff at the National Archives will make these requests on behalf of researchers.
Where restrictions are imposed upon a collection but where contact with the depositor is not achievable, researchers will be granted access upon signing an Oral Records and Private Archives Declaration undertaking not to use the information in the archives to cause embarrassment to any living person.
ACCESS TO ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVES
The conditions of access to oral history archives are determined by the persons who are the subjects of the oral histories, i.e., the interviewees or informants.
While the majority of oral history archives are immediately open for public access upon deposit, as with personal archives and the archives of organisations, some oral history archives have restrictions imposed upon them. The most common restriction is a requirement to seek written permission from the interviewee to gain access. A less common restriction is the denial of access until after the expiration of a given period of years.
As in the case of the other categories of archives, when written permission is required for access to certain oral history archives, the staff at the National Archives will make these requests on behalf of researchers.
Written permission from the archivist must be sought prior to publication of material from the archives service. Any such publication must acknowledge its source.