The surge of interest in architectural archives coincides with the development of the historic preservation profession in the United States. Indeed, successive federal laws establishing guidelines for preservation in the twentieth century explicitly mandate the collection of documentation. As public as a finished work of architecture can be, the architectural archive—the one maintained by the architect, not the publicly mandated building records—is a variable beast, subject to many internal and external factors: from the care the architect gave to the material, to the time between creation and collection, and the number of players involved. How do architectural archives develop, what are some of the variables of collecting, how might historic preservationists engage in this process? In the end, the story is less professional and more personal, less like Walter Benjamin and more like the psychological novels of Henry James.