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Brief History of the Archives

Brief History of the Archives






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  • James O’Toole “Understanding Archives” Ernst Posner “Archives in the Ancient World” Kate Theimer’s presentation “Evolution or Extinction” Archives Next blog Quote: “To those actively engaged in archival work the history of archives administration should be a serious concern, not merely a subject of curiosity. Beyond that, archivists must feel a need to explore the origins of their profession, to understand the circumstances and forces that have determined its evolution, and with such understanding, to anticipate and prepare for the future.” – Leopoldo Sandri
  • The class today is titled Archives Evolution and will focus on the historic events and impetus that led to the development of Archives as a physical entity in addition to the much later development of the archival profession. I will be building upon the already existing concepts of Archives 1.0 and 2.0, and introducing what Kate Theimer has recently dubbed Archives 3.0. To restate for those who may need a refresher, Archives 1.0 was the stage of evolution in which the development and protection of archives was the primary concern of those involved. Archives 2.0 began where Archives 1.0 left off in the late 20th h century. Once archives had been established as needed communal entities, the need for a designated care taker was identified. The identified need and those who began to fill it further evolved to leading to archivists gathering to establish desired skill sets for those of the profession and standards that all should follow. Archives 2.0 is wrapping up and we are headed to the next step of our evolution that is both common sense and yet many stereotypical archivist will find surprising. Today’s class will explore the origins of archives’ by reviewing the physical entities as they were found from ancient to modern times. We will then review the (rather fast compared to the physical archives’) development of the archives as a profession; the archivist concept, its development and projection. And then conclude with where the archives evolution may take us next. So, let us take a closer look at each of these evolution stages.
  • Archives 1.0 is the establishment of the idea and need for an archives as a repository for important documents. The 1.0 really takes it’s cue in the late 18 th -20 th century where modern advocates of archives began to systematically establish the need for archives in both the public and private sectors. However, Archives have deeper ancient roots, and I would like to cover that history briefly so that we have a strong idea of where archives began so that we can better understand where we’re going. The origin of what we now consider archives dates back to the cradle of civilization. SUMER ***Describe records that are found: clay tablets, all forms*** ***Go on to state what the clay tablets contained. Point to picture*** More permanent and therefore we know the most about this first ancient archive than we do of the rest. As early as the 2100 BCE the third dynasty of UR had archival systems in place In the German periodical Orientalia , Nikolaus Schneider (Archaeologist and Historian) describes the following: Documents and records written on clay were stored for future use in special archival premises. This holds true of the so-called economic texts only. Library works are not represented. Archival documents were stored in special clay containers that were manufactured and used exclusively for archival purposes. To the clay tablet containers there were fastened clay bulls that gave three things: the identification of the container as a clay tablet container, an indication of the type of documents included, and the size of documents collection. (meta data) Documents were assigned to the different containers in accordance with the subject arrangement. What was put into a container depended not on the number of documents but on the time period indicated. Ernst Posner goes on to solidify the archival relevance of the site by stating: The archival approach to the tablets has been accepted as de facto: the exact spots where the tablets were found are entered on a survey map and the tablets themselves are numbered as found so that the original relationships between them are on record. ***Archives open to the public. To archival sites to service outside and inside the city. Whenever a territory was conquered all the records were obtained and sent directly to the conquering ruler – knowledge is power*** EGYPT *predominantly 1500 BCE onwards, Pharaonic to Roman Egypt* Used records as a tool of management but also contributed toward making record-consciousness integral and important in the life of the people. ***Materials: papyrus, leather and wooden writing boards – as a result didn’t survive too well.**** The rank of scribe and record keeper was a highly elevated position that even princes held. The level of detail that Egyptian captured called for many scribe roles. To show archival intent Posner points out that annotations on documents, such as “to be copied” or “stays in the archives” and the letter writer might admonish the recipient: “preserve my letter so that in the future you can use it as evidence.” And furthermore that according to Egyptian law, written complaints and defense had to filed in lawsuits, and all business matters, such as purchases, leases, loans, and matrimonial agreements had to be settles in wiring if they were to be valid. ***Describe organization on how the scrolls would be found*** ROMAN Roman Republic’s Tabularium erected in 79BCE and served as the state archives of Rome. ***record materials in all forms, but best preserved are those of bronze and stone tablets*** No Senate resolution was considered valid until the process of filing, called the delation ad aerarium had been completed. State archives was administered by the quaestors, had to be elected and was considered a first step in career of office. However, only allowed to serve one year which led to haphazard organization. – Argument for consistent and skilled care. Prevalence and cost of paper, evolving technologies has led to increase in production MEDIEVAL EUROPE Literacy spread widely and with the advent of printing technology and the ever cheapening costs of paper materials, records became more and more prolific. The words Acts and Deeds meant not only the acts described but the paper for which they were recorded. William the Conqueror in 1085 conducted a census in effort to acquaint himself with his newly acquired kingdom. It was so large and all encompassing that it was called the Doomsday book in reference to the Christians book of judgment as its decisions would be forever fixed and unalterable. By mid-20 th century the French est. principle that records were critical because they protected the rights of the people. Public had right to inspect records produced and kept by the government.
  • Now we enter into Archives 2.0. Archives 1.0 was much about where archives were found in the ancient to modern world and concluding the the establishment of modern institutional repositories with both their need and importance recognized. Archives 2.0 begins to emerge when the settling of the institutions. The need for designated care takers who were knowledgeable and reliable in the documents and collections they took care of. Since the founding of archives, their keepers were from any other profession except as an archivist. instead they served in/it was a part of their capacity as a religious, imperial, or business figure. This is true from the ancient archives until only just recently. The development of the Archives profession didn't begin until the early 20th century, with a crescendo around the 1970s when being an archivist required a discrete skill set. To give you some numbers: In the 1950s National Archives’ Philip Hamer identified 1300 institutions and agencies that held archival collections 1988 – 4200 archives with people beginning to pursue archives as a profession as opposed to “falling” into it The rapid expansion of the historical profession at the end of the 19 th century led first to a greater concern for taking care of sources then ultimately brought about formation of distinct profession. The critical reliance on primary sources to determine “what actually happened” led to a distinct and persuasive need for professionals to take care and make available these documents of history. In 1884 the American Historical Association met to focus specifically on this need 1896 Historical Manuscripts Commission – what’s out there to be studied 1899 Public Archives Commission – where are they? Their state? Whose interest in using them? – Many state archives programs began as a result 1909 AHA called into being a Conference of Archivists 1934 with the New Deal brought the National Archives SAA founded in 1936 with 125 members 1930s-1950s est of archival program for every state 1950s onward dev of standards 1965 National Endowment for the Humanities 1970s private/religious archives est and contribute 1975 National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) 1977 SAA published Archival Procedures 1970s to 1980s archivists achieved sufficient members and institutional stability (Archives 1.0) that they could turn their attention to what archivists do, how they do it, and why. (Archives 2.0) There was need for a profession, and even after that profession was established archivist then had to continually educate their peers, constituents, and higher ups about what an archivists does and why it matters.
  • In the last 10 years it has become more and more imperative to hold a masters degree in a field related to the archives (history/library science)
  • Evolution or Extinction? Archives have existed in form since the dawn of civilization, and the profession has existed since the early to mid 20th century. So what next? The process of evolution never concludes and archivists have already started to see signs of area where changes and improvements will begin to take place. EXTINCTION OR EVOLUTION Dinosaurs vs geckos 3 areas where we are experiencing potential catastrophe and need to adapt: encroaching professions, web and commercial companies, budget crisis Need to evolve: to be humans: clever, flexible, adaptable, social, community-oriented Current “kings” are flexible, strong, adaptable, fearless How can we start evolving? Story, Community, Meaning, Partnership – not in SAA definition Need to bring meaning and life to the archival party We've established what an archives is, what archivists (and those that care of archives' collections) do, but necessity and evolution require we go onto the next level: community building and establishing relationships with the everyday people that can relate and connect with an archives' collection. Archives 3.0 is about the people, and we as care takers of archives should begin to [provide channels] for people to connect, invest and build relationships with the collections.

Brief History of the Archives Brief History of the Archives Presentation Transcript

  • Archives Evolution, a brief history
  • Class Outline
      • Archives 1.0 – The Archives
      • Archives 2.0 – The Profession
      • Archives 3.0 – The Future
  • Ancient Archives to Archives 1.0
      • Sumer
      • Egypt
      • Rome
      • Medieval to Modern Europe
  • Archives 1.0 to 2.0
      • The establishment of the Archives
      • The establishment of the Profession
    “ Archivists commit their time and their talents first to saving the permanently valuable records of individuals and groups, then to organizing those records in a systematic and coherent way, and finally (an most importantly) to making those records and the information they contain available to users.” - James O’Toole
  • Archives 2.0 – The Profession
      • Degree (Bachelors and Masters)
      • Experience
      • Jack of All Trades
        • Preservation
        • Education
        • Outreach
        • Technology
        • Authorship
        • Grant Writing
        • Project Management
  • Archives 3.0 – The Future
      • Evolution or Extinction?
    n. ~ 1. An individual responsible for appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, according to the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control to protect the materials’ authenticity and context. – 2. An individual with responsibility for management and oversight of an archival repository or of records of enduring value. - Society of American Archivists