This publication is an anthology of papers presented at a conference held at the Rockefeller Archive Center in January 1990, and sponsored by the Council on Foundations. This collaboration of the Archive Center and the Council provided a rare opponunity for foundations to learn both why preserving documents is imponant and how several foundations have approached finding a repository or setting up and managing an archives. Participants in the conference had the added privilege of conferring with experts and seeing an operating archive as they toured the Rockefeller Archive Center.
Foundations are institutions that are shaping private initiatives for the public good, so documenting this aspect of American society falls uniquely under the stewardship of the organizations themselves. Foundation documents often provide the only surviving records of the important contributions of nonprofits and foundations to civic life. These records will help to inform future judgments and ensure that the history of the field is not lost. The publication of this volume was intended to make the information shared at the conference more widely available and to provide an entry point and a primer for foundations as they begin their records and archives journey.