The emergence of archives in Lithuania is associated with the formation of the Lithuanian state in the first half of the 13 th c. The old Lithuanian chancery archives of Grand Duke and King Mindaugas did not survive: they were destroyed by numerous wars and fires. The Grand Duke's chancery archives later acquired the title of the Lithuanian Metrica. In the Middle Ages archives of towns, churches and estates were formed. When the Russian Empire occupied Lithuania in 1795, the most important Lithuanian archives were transferred to Russia.
It was in middle of the 19th century the first archives was established as a special institution for accumulating and preserving records. The year 1852 saw the establishment of the Vilnius Central Archives of Early Register Books, the purpose of which was to preserve official files of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Records from the period of the Russian invasion (19th-20th cc.), belonging to Tsarist Russian institutions of the Vilnius Gubernya, were stored in the Joint Archives of Vilnius Institutions established in 1872-1876.
After the declaration of the independent Republic of Lithuania, the Central State Archives were established in Kaunas on 19 October, 1921. The purpose of these archives was to collect and preserve all records of former state and local government institutions, take care of archives belonging to private persons, and accommodate archival records recovered from Russia.
During the soviet occupation (from 1940), Lithuanian Archives were reorganized according to the soviet pattern and brought under subordination to the Ministry of Interior. In 1961 the Archival Board under the Council of Ministers of the LSSR was established. In 1957-1968, the basis was laid to the network of state archives consisting of central and regional archives.
After the Lithuanian independence was reestablished on 11 March, 1990, the modern system of state archives was formed.
At present, the state archival system consist of Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania, Lithuanian State Historical Archive, Lithuanian Central State Archive, Lithuanian State Modern Archive, Lithuanian Special Archive, Lithuanian Archive of Literature and Art and four regional state archives with branches.
The National Documentary Fond consists of activity documents of state and municipal institutions, agencies and enterprises, persons authorised by the state, activity documents of state agencies and enterprises which operated in Lithuania at various times, as well as the documents preserved in state archives. Activity documents of enduring value of non-governmental organisations, private legal and natural persons, as well as the documents of the historical heritage of Lithuania or related to Lithuania, or their copies, received from other states may be included to the National Documentary Fond.
Today, state archives play an important role in the processes of preserving and using public records of the Lithuanian National Documentary Fond, making them accessible to the citizens and governmental and public institutions, creating efficient information search systems, providing public services.
For the transparency and accountability purposes of the public administration state archives service play an important role in the processes of records management in public sector. State archives perform control approximately 2 000 institutions and agencies.
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