RT @archivesnext: Thanks for the lively discussion on "Archivists and historians–Am I giving archivists too much credit?


"In case you’re not following me on Twitter, I’m nervously preparing to participate in my first annual meeting of the American Historical Association, where I’m part of a panel that will be discussing Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives by Francis X. Blouin, Jr. (Bentley Historical Library) and William Rosenberg (Univ. of Michigan). You can read more about Blouin and Rosenberg’s arguments in this interview.


I only have fifteen minutes or so to convey something I hope will be brilliant and provocative, so I’m planning to focus on the two concluding recommendations the book makes for archivists. The first concerns the perceived inability of archivists to understand the historical context of their records or the potential value of those records for researchers:


'Many archivists schooled in the technologies of information management may resist the idea, but the inherent historicity of all archives leads us to suggest that understanding the kinds of questions scholars might want to put to their documents may be as important as assessing their evidentiary and institutional value. Records in digital archives clearly have to be understood in these terms if they are to have some value beyond their current use, if they are to serve as future testimony to past processes and practices. . . . Moreover, archivists will only be able to maintain their important roles as reference counselors and curators if they have some understanding of the historical issues implicit in their materials. This will also help assure that their repositories remain at least partially connected to the needs and cultures of all their users . . . [211]' "