This article explains how to copy an archived table (or feature class) from an Oracle user-schema geodatabase to the master SDE geodatabase, keeping the archived records. The procedure works for non-versioned tables only.


There can be only one geodatabase per Oracle schema. Usually, the schema is called “SDE” and the geodatabase in this schema is the master (SDE) geodatabase. A geodatabase in the schema of a user other than the SDE user is called a user-schema geodatabase. It is not completely independent from the master geodatabase. ArcGIS tends to become slower if there are user-schema geodatabases in Oracle. Probably for this reason they have long been discouraged. Since ArcGIS version 10.7 (ArcGIS Pro 2.3) you can no longer create user-schema geodatabases.


Archiving keeps old records, allowing you to “view into the past.”

If archiving is enabled for a non-versioned geodatabase table FOO, ArcGIS adds fields GDB_FROM_DATE, GDB_TO_DATE, GDB_ARCHIVE_OID, and creates a view FOO_EVW without the additional fields and where GDB_TO_DATE is 9999-12-31, that is, showing only records that exist at present. ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap show this view, but by the name of the actual table.

If archiving is enabled for a versioned geodatabase table FOO, a new archive table named FOO_H is created. It has the same schema as the original table, plus three fields GDB_FROM_DATE, GDB_TO_DATE, GDB_ARCHIVE_OID. It is not shown in the catalog. No view is created.

This document only covers the non-versioned case.

The Problem

There is no known way to copy an archived table from within ArcGIS without loosing the archive. Esri describes a workflow to move user-schema gdb to stand-alone gdb in Oracle, but it will loose the archive. An old StackExchange thread confirms this inconvenience and proposes backup/restore on the database level as a workaround, which is no less inconvenient.

The Solution

If you are willing to use SQL, there is a simple solution:

  1. Create new empty feature class in the master SDE schema.
  2. Enable archiving (will create the view and the extra fields).
  3. Use SQL to copy rows, including the extra fields.

ArcGIS will recognize the result as a populated archived feature class.

The solution can be scripted using ArcPy along these lines:

import arcpy

user_schema_connection = "UserConnection.sde"
master_sde_connection = "MasterConnection.sde"

user_fc_name = "MyFeatureClass"
sde_fc_name = "MyFeatureClass"  # could be different

arcpy.env.workspace = user_schema_connection
sref = arcpy.Describe(user_fc_name).spatialReference

# Create empty feature class in master schema:
arcpy.env.workspace = master_sde_connection, sde_fc_name, ..., sref, ...), ...)
# etc... create all other fields

desc = arcpy.Describe(sde_fc_name)
assert desc.IsArchived
assert not desc.IsVersioned

# Up to here we have an empty non-versioned table with archiving enabled.
# Now we use SQL to copy all rows from the user schema table to the new
# empty master schema table. Be sure to include the special archive fields!

fields = ', '.join('"'+f+'"' for f in fields)
sql = 'INSERT INTO ' + sde_fc_name + ' ( ' + fields + ' ) SELECT ' + fields + ' FROM ' user_fc_name

sde = arcpy.ArcSDESQLExecute(sdeconn)

# We now have a copy of the user-schema table, with archive state
# retained. The original user-schema table could now be deleted.

Note: I was trying to use the old feature class as a template for the new feature class to spare all the AddField() calls. However, this resulted in a duplicate OBJECTID field. Reason: unknown.

Obviously, you will have to adjust this snippet to your situation, and you will need appropriate connection files. If you have many tables to copy, you will want to parameterize and generalize this script. For example, do not hard-code the fields, but get them using arcpy.Describe() or arcpy.ListFields(). Good luck.