In 1908, the Government of Alberta created an archival program as part of its Legislative Library with the appointment of the first Provincial Archivist of Alberta. Acquisitions were primarily oral histories and some private records. In 1925, the Government passed the Preservation of Public Documents Act to establish processes for the transfer and destruction of public records. There is no record of transfers of government records to the Legislative Library's archival program.
In 1963, the Department of Provincial Secretary established the Museum and Archives Branch to oversee the creation of a Provincial Museum and Archives, which began acquiring records. The passage of the Provincial Archives Act in 1966 established the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA), which reported to the Department of Provincial Secretary. The Act also repealed the Preservation of Public Documents Act and established the Public Documents Committee, with the PAA as its secretariat. The records of the Legislative Library's archival program were transferred to the Provincial Archives in 1974. In 1995, the Public Records Committee (the successor to the Public Documents Committee) was replaced by the Alberta Records Management Committee, and representatives of the Department of Public Works, Supply and Services became its Secretariat.
Starting in 1967, the PAA was co-located with the Royal Alberta Museum until the PAA moved to its current building in 2003.
Mandates/Sources of authority
The PAA operates under Section 9(h) of the Historic Resources Act (RSA 2000, c. H-9). The PAA also has responsibilities under the authority of the Government Organization Act, Records Management Regulation (A.R. 224/2001), which provides for archival appraisals as part of the records management process within the Government of Alberta.
Headed by the Executive Director/Provincial Archivist, the PAA is divided into an Access and Conservation Section and a Collections Management Section.
Records management and collecting policies
The PAA acquires records that reflect Alberta's history. The PAA is a 'total archives', preserving the documented heritage of the Government of Alberta and individual Albertans including the records of businesses, organizations, associations and communities of Alberta.
The PAA acquires:
-Sound recordings and
-Cartographic records such as maps and plans.
The building currently housing the PAA was formerly a patient services building operated by a local health authority. It was retrofitted as a state of the art archival facility and opened to the public in 2003.
The PAA acquires records through donations of material from the private sector and transfers of records through the Government of Alberta's records management program.
Dating primarily from the 1880s to the 2010s, the holdings of the PAA include:
-53,700 metres of government textual records
-4,540 metres of private textual records
-154,330 maps, plans and drawings
-71,835 objects of audiovisual holdings including film, video and audio recordings, and
-14,825 resource library books.
Finding aids, guides and publications
The PAA produces unpublished finding aids for the majority of its fonds and collections. It has also produced publications such as Documenting Francophone Alberta; Your Archives, Your Project; An Administrative History of the Government of Alberta, 1905-2005; and Family Histories. It has also created research guides to its holdings of Ukrainian, Francophone, Indigenous and First World War records.