Today the largest archive in which are documents constituting the legal basis of foundations surviving ( belonging to Seljukian, Beylics, Ottoman and Republic period) is Foundation Records Archive of Directorate General of Foundations.
Although most of documents related to foundations are available in Foundation Records Archive today, some foundation certificate charters and similar documents have been assigned to other institutions ( Prime Minister Ottoman Archive Department, Directorate General of Land Registry and Cadastre, Topkapı Palace Museum and Süleymaniye Library) in the historical flow due to several reasons or have been under the control of several persons and some of them have been taken to personal collections or museums in several countries.
Foundation Records Archive is an archive where title deed of real estates, documents explaining the duties including foundation such as foundation certificate charters, ordinance, evidence, deds of trust are available. If registration of a foundation is not available in registers and documents in this archive, it is deprived of legal basis.
There are 2370 foundation certificate charters and registers in Foundation Records Archive and documents belonging to several transactions as well as 27.021 foundation certificate charters and similar documents are available in these registers.
Register types according to documents and information they include;
- Deed of Trust registers (Registers related with foundation certificate charters): Several foundation certificate charters from the smallest one to the longest one are recorded in these registers.
- Base registers: These registers are started to keep after (1300/1882 M.) and they contain transactions such as individuality registrations of foundations and appointment and change registrations of servants.
- Treasury registers: There are individuality registrations of records kept prior to H. 1300. Registrations which are not assigned to base registers after H. 1300 take place in treasury register.
- Index registers: They are indexes of abovementioned registers.
- Details registers: Recording transactions of foundations, records related to bare trustee and appointment, dismiss and similar transactions of officers performing charity services are fused in these registers after H. 1300.
- Ordinance Details registers: Sultan's ordinances are written in these registers.
- Judgment registers: There are rules and decrees regarding foundations given by Sultans in these registers. Also there are documents which contain subjects such as appointment, repair- maintenance, prohibition of intervenes, income - expense, estimation and allocation and there are documents such as judge and collection of biographies which are written to inform supervising authority and to take ordinance from Sultan in these registers.
- Certificate registers: Theycontain records concerning documents submitted by authorized persons of foundation and their representatives.
- Type registers: All of daily transactions of alphabetized foundations are written in these registers.
- Ordinance Indexes Registers: They are indexes arranged to make easy searching in ordinances.
- Regulations Registers: They contain in detail only transactions belonging to Foundation Organization of İstanbul.
- Salary registers: They indicates those who take usufruct and dependant salary before publishing of Foundations Law numbered 2762.
- Seal Application registers: Personal and official seals of authorized persons of Foundations Organization are available in these registers.
- Argument registers: They contain written decrees given by foundation courts or other courts on the subject of conflicts between foundation's officers and its servants and border conflicts of villages having foundation.
- Conditions registers: Some grant transactions are recorded in these registers.
- Abstract registers: These registers show records related to appointment and dismiss of trustees and persons performing foundation charity services in Anatolia Organization but generally in İstanbul.
- Usufruct registers: They indicate amount of usufruct allocated for relevant persons of foundation and those who benefit from foundation after publishing of Foundations Law numbered 2762.
- Transferring to village registers: Transactions related to assignment of foundations whose charities and real estates are in the boundaries of same village to board of alderman are recorded in these registers.
- Condition change register: Decisions related to changing of foundation conditions in accordance with today's conditions application of which are not possible legally or actually for today are recorded in these registers.
- Equalization registers: In the event that income of foundation increases or decreases, decisions and statements related to arrangement of allocations in accordance with income of foundation are recorded in these registers.
- Translation registers: Turkish translations of foundation certificate charters written in Arabic are available in these registers.
- Plant registers: Plants established after publishing of Foundations Law numbered 2762 are recorded in these registers.
Foundation certificate charters and similar documents registered in archive may be expressed in four groups;
- Documents belonging to Seljukian period,
- Documents belonging to Beylics period,
- Documents belonging to Ottoman period
- Documents belonging to Grand National Assembly of Turkey and Turkish Republic period,
Ottoman Turkish or Arabic of every era are used in language in Foundation Records Archive whose establishment goes on for ages. This requires to know Arabic and Persian very well.
All kinds of font types from Seljukian period to alphabet revolution are used in font type. Most of archive material constitute from kırma scripts and siyakat scripts which requires specialty and which everybody cannot read easily as well as beautiful script samples having excellent calligraphy.
Foundation Records Archive is also a very important resource in terms of Ottoman language, Ottoman Style, script styles, volume and illumination and examining of paper types.
In Ottoman period, religious services in the whole of country, waters of cities and towns, bridges, cemeteries, roads, health services, education and training services, social aid services and many services including in activity area of municipalities and local authorities are performed by foundations for centuries.
Therefore archive documents have the characteristic of unique treasury both in terms of Ottoman history, culture and social life and in terms of Foundations Law.
Deceased Prof. Fuad Köprülü states in that way this characteristic;
"Foundation Organization is a very important source to inspect Turkish and Islam World of middle and new ages. Foundation documents to which science world may attain easily not only will enlighten the foundation institution in terms of legal and historical but also will provide new documents to enlighten every part of our history.
These documents will render service not only for our national history but also for all world history as being important historical resources in first degree."
Almost all of foundation certificate charters and similar documents are transferred in roman letters and activities related with remaining part still continue.
Since daily transactions were executed over original documents for centuries, although first micro film unit was established in 1965 to prevent wearing of archive material, a complete microfilm unit was established in 1991 and microfilms of documents were taken in daily use and original material was removed from daily use and they now are protected in modern archive system.
To protect the archive documents against fire, gaseous automatic fire extinction system with no damage to human healthy was established in the beginning of 2001.
Input data was started to module prepared for Foundation Records Archive in the beginning of 2000 in the scope of Directorate General of Foundations and input still goes on.
Following completion of input data to Foundation Records Archive which is used by many researchers from every country; it will be presented to all countries of world through internet.