The organization for managing records and archives did not emerge together with the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. Such management became active with the establishment of the Department of Documents (文書科) and its affiliated offices overseeing reading and safekeeping of official papers, after the formation of the Central Secretariat(中央秘書處) in 1926. Improving the work of the Secretariat’s organization became the focus of critical discussions in the early 1930s. The main criticism was that the Secretariat had failed to be cognizant of its political role and degenerated into a mere “functional organization.” The solution to this was the “politicization of the Secretariat’s work.” Moreover, influenced by the “Rectification Movement” in the 1940s, the party emphasized the responsibility of the Resources Department (材料科) that extended beyond managing documents to collecting, organizing and providing various kinds of important information data.
In the mean time, maintaining security with regard to composing documents continued to be emphasized through such methods as using different names for figures and organizations or employing special inks for document production. In addition, communications between the central political organs and regional offices were emphasized through regular reports on work activities and situations of the local areas. The General Secretary not only composed the drafts of the major official documents but also handled the reading and examination of all documents, and thus played a central role in record processing.
The records, called archives after undergoing document processing, were placed in safekeeping. This function was handled by the “Document Safekeeping Office(文件保管處)” of the Central Secretariat’s Department of Documents. Although the Document Safekeeping Office, also called the “Central Repository(中央文庫)”, could no longer accept, beginning in the early 1930s, additional archive transfers, the Resources Department continued to strengthen throughout the 1940s its role of safekeeping and providing documents and publication materials. In particular, collections of materials for research and study were carried out, and with the recovery of regions which had been under the Japanese rule, massive amounts of archive and document materials were collected.
After being stipulated by rules in 1931, the archive classification and cataloguing methods became actively systematized, especially in the 1940s. Basically, "subject" classification methods and fundamental cataloguing techniques were adopted. The principle of assuming “importance” and “confidentiality” as the criteria of management emerged from a relatively early period, but the concept or process of evaluation that differentiated preservation and discarding of documents was not clear. While implementing a system of secure management and restricted access for confidential information, the critical view on providing use of archive materials was very strong, as can be seen in the slogan, “the unification of preservation and use.”
Even during the revolutionary movement and wars, the Chinese Communist Party continued their efforts to strengthen management and preservation of records & archives. The results were not always desirable nor were there any reasons for such experiences to lead to stable development. The historical conditions in which the Chinese Communist Party found itself probably made it inevitable. The most pronounced characteristics of this process can be found in the fact that they not only pursued efficiency of records & archives management at the functional level but, while strengthening their self-awareness of the political significance impacting the Chinese Communist Party’s revolution movement, they also paid attention to the value possessed by archive materials as actual evidence for revolutionary policy research and as historical evidence of the Chinese Communist Party.