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Archival Appraisal and Preserving                Memory         An examination of past and present        theories and ini...
"If an item does not appear in our records, it does not2                            exist.―    –Jocasta Nu, Star Wars Epis...
Mnemoysne    The Greek Goddess of Memory3
The Memory Metaphor     Why do we have archives?     Metaphor of archives and collective memory      going hand in hand ...
Two Modes of Memory     Primary or Functional      Mode     Secondary or Storage      Mode       Information we keep to...
Collective Memory     Emile Durkheim,      The Elementary      Forms of the      Religious Life      (1912).     Coined ...
Collective Memory     Maurice      Halbwachs, The      Social Frameworks of      Memory (1925). Pupil      of Durkheim.  ...
Ministry of Truth     George Orwell, 1984     Employees rewrite      history and falsify      records     Doublethink  ...
Collective Memory                     In the 1970s, historian                      Howard Zinn publicly                  ...
―History is written by the victors‖      Since Roman and       medieval times, leaders       have asserted their       au...
Documentation Gap      Underdogs are still       not having their voices       heard      Women, ethnic       minorities...
Orwell on the Documentation     Gap      "It will never be        "When I think of       possible to get a        antiqu...
―Take the trouble to compile a       whole new world of documentary       material, about the lives, desires,       needs,...
Houses of Memory      Jean-Pierre Wallot,       former National       Archivist of Canada,       President of the Royal  ...
―As for archivists, they carry a     heavy burden. They hold the keys       to the collective memory. In this     world of...
The Archival Temple      Control of archivists over    Those that are kept are       social/collective memory       give...
Appraising Difficult Topics      Easier to leave tragic events in the past than to         remember them        Reason‘s...
Salem Witch Trials18
Nazi Germany19
Boston Massacre20
John Wayne Gacy21
Virginia Tech Massacre Archive      Had over 87,000       items      Many items were not       good candidates for      ...
Virginia Tech Massacre Archive23     A gift of 33,000 paper cranes were mailed to VT                   days after the shoo...
Virginia Tech Massacre Archive24     Banners waiting to be accessioned into the archive.
Virginia Tech Massacre Archive      A banner of support sent from James Madison        University‘s Student Korean Associa...
Virginia Tech Massacre          Napkin with pen drawings and prose, ―In memory of…‖26
United States Holocaust Museum         International Archival Programs       Goal is to locate Division          Holocaus...
United States Holocaust Museum         International Archival Programs                     Division28      Many times docu...
Selection Criteria            1.Time            2.Place           3.People     4.Subject and theme       5.Form and style29
Conclusion      Identifying the value of a record based upon       cultural memory is an important part of appraisal     ...
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Archival Appraisal and Preserving Memory

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  • MnemosyneMnemosyne is the Greek goddess of memory, but tends to only be known as the Mother of the Muses. Memory was incredibly important to the Greeks until the written word was invented. Interestingly enough, Mnemosyne became relatively obsolete in light of this and there are not many known myths about her except for this one. After the Greek god Zeus waged war against the Titans and became the leader of the Olympians, he feared that the stories of his success would eventually be forgotten despite his immortality. He sought out Mnemosyne, slept with her, and months later she gave birth for nine daughters on nine consecutive days. These daughters were called the Muses. Sharon Turnbull, “Memory and the Goddess,” The Goddess Path, June 2004, 18 edition, http://www.goddess-gift.com/goddess_gift_book/goddess-Jun04.htm.
  • Why do we have archives? One of the reasons we maintain archives is because they tend to go hand in hand with a society’s collective memory. This reason tends to be used metaphorically, opposed to an archive’s other uses, such as for research, education, and documentation. It is generally agreed upon that material objects and documents are directly linked to the interaction between humans. These objects are more valuable than oral history to most people and can be passed down through generations, such as a citizenship certificate or wedding ring.
  • When it comes to external memory, there are two modes: primary and secondary memory also known as functional and storage memory, respectively. Storage memory refers to the information we keep in order to be able to reflect upon or use again in the future. “Archiving is not about history looking backward, but about storing and securing for the future,” says archivist Eric Ketelaar, “Archiving has always been directed towards transmitting human activity and experience through time…and space.” As human beings bring together all of their stored memories, we end up with something called collective memory.Eric Ketelaar, “Archival Temples, Archival Prisons: Modes of Power and Protection,” Archival Science 2 (2002): 232–233.
  • When tracing the history behind the idea of collective memory, it is likely that Emile Durkheim was the man who set the concept into motion, as he is credited with the term ‘collective consciousness.’ Durkheim was a French sociologist and is largely regarded as the father of modern sociology. His popular book, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, explored the social impact on a community unified by a system of beliefs.Jeffrey K. Olick, “Collective Memory,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Macmillan Reference USA, November 2007), 7–8, http://www.virginia.edu/sociology/publications/faculty%20articles/OlickArticles/galecm.pdf.
  • Maurice Halbwachs was a student of Emile Durkheim. He believed that memory comes from how the minds of society work together. Memories are best kept as a group, he said. Since it is impossible for every person to remember everything that has happened to them, group involvements help to keep memories alive or forgotten. It is even possible that through these group memberships you might collect memories of events that you were not even a part of, just merely listening to others recount them is enough to believe you did actually experience them yourself. Additionally, he discerns between historical memory and collective memory, saying that history is the “remembered past to which we no longer have an “organic” relation—the past that is no longer an important part of our lives—while collective memory is the active past that forms our identities.”Jeffrey K. Olick, “Collective Memory,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Macmillan Reference USA, November 2007), 7–8, http://www.virginia.edu/sociology/publications/faculty%20articles/OlickArticles/galecm.pdf.
  • In 1948, George Orwell wrote his chilling prediction of the world’s future in his novel 1984. Here, Orwell’s character Winston is an employee of the Ministry of Truth. It is here where history if being rewritten and events revised so that the idea of doublethink is instilled for control. Doublethink is when you can believe and disbelieve in one idea at the same time, making Winston believe in the falsified content of records that he wrote himself. It is impossible for the workers to trust their own memory and the records become true because the workers believe in them. "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"George Orwell, Chapter 3, 1984 (Signet Classics, 1950).
  • In the 1970s the historian Howard Zinn accused archivists of not collecting a diverse selection of documents. Zinn said that archivists tended to preserve records created by dominant social groups instead of those created by less powerful groups. This has resulted in an incomplete representation of minority groups.“What is at stake in struggles for control over objects and the modes of exhibitingthem, finally, is the articulation of identity. Exhibitions represent identity, eitherdirectly, through assertion, or indirectly, by implication. When cultural ‘others’are implicated, exhibitions tell us who we are and, perhaps most significant, whowe are not.”-Ivan Karp Zinn’s argument illustrates the notion of a documentation gap. “If archivists choose to preserve one memory, they forfeit the resources—human, physical, and financial—to preserve another,” says Katie Shilton and Ramesh Srinivasan in their essay Participatory Appraisal and Arrangement for Multicultural Archival Collections. Its highly regarded among archivists that one of their responsibilities is to preserve a wide variety of cultural materials. Still, not much has changed since the 1970s and the history of particular communities is being lost along the way. Archivists may also get faulted for not seeing the importance of those ethnic collections because they may not recognize a localized record or understand the importance of a cultural narrative. Ever since the ancient civilizations began to document their own history, there has been a trend of overlooking marginalized groups in society. This began as an inherent belief that only the history of powerful elite should be preserved, and even though today we see how unethical that approach is, we have still done little in the way of giving a voice to the underdogs. Some members of poorly documented groups have decided to just go about preserving their own materials themselves. They have built archives and museums dedicated to their community’s history. Others have gone back and tried to document communities that are missing a historical record. Ian Johnston’s theory of “archival activism” calls for archival leaders to work alongside those minority groups in order to understand their culture and the best way to represent them in the archive.Ivan Karp, “Culture and Representation,” in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, ed. Samuel D. Lavine (Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 15.Katie Shilton and Ramesh Srinivasan, “Participatory Appraisal and Arrangement for Multicultural Archival Collections,” Archivaria 63 (Spring 2007): 92–93.Foote, “To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture,” 391.
  • In 1991, the former National Archivist of Canada and President of the Royal Society of Canada, Jean-Pierre Wallot, coined the term “houses of memory” during an address to the ICA. This term referred to archives as a place where treasures of our past are resting and that it was the archivist’s role to be the “keys to [that] collective memory.”“As for archivists, they carry a heavy burden. They hold the keys to the collective memory. In this world of superficiality and ‘instant’ everything, they must, more than ever before, develop the treasures of our ‘houses of memory.’”Allis Bastian Jeannette, “In a ‘House of Memory’: Discovering the Provenance of Place,” Archival Issues 28, no. 1 (2003): 10.Jean-Pierre Wallot, “Building a Living Memory for the History of Our Present: New Perspectives on Archival Appraisal,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 2, no. 1 (1991): 282.
  • The Archival Temple is a term which refers to the control archivists have over social/collective memory. Inside the temple there are records about human civilization and as we choose which records of those to keep, we are also choosing which ones have more value. “Archivists need to realize that appraisal is part of a larger process of building memory and a process of connecting to other societal events related to the past,” says Richard Cox. Additionally, Cox writes that archivist’s role in preserving societal memory should affect “the identification of what records should reside within the archives or be designated as archival in value.” The choice of what we keep and what we do not forever has an impact on society. “We are what we collect,” says Elizabeth Kaplan, “[and] we collect what we are.”Jean-Pierre Wallot, “Building a Living Memory for the History of Our Present: New Perspectives on Archival Appraisal,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 2, no. 1 (1991): 282.
  • Dark events in history have a tendency to be eradicated from our memory. Kenneth Foote says that it is easier for humans to leave tragic events in the past instead of preserving their memory. Depending on the value of the event, it might be more appropriate to build a memorial in an attempt to warn future generations from repeating the past, such as the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. If the violence of the event was warranted without reason, the chances of preserving documents and artifacts from it are rare. There are many examples of this situation occurring. In Salem, Massachusetts there is no factual evidence of where the accused witches were executed. After 1692 many witnesses of the trials withdrew their statements against the victims, shameful of their past. If you go to Salem today you can visit alleged locations of the trials and executions, but all oral and written history is lost. Another example of effacement is in Berlin, Germany. After the fall of the Nazi regime, many buildings related to the Nazi’s power, such as Spandau prison, libraries, and galleries were destroyed. Kenneth E. Foote, “To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture,” American Archivist 53 (Summer 1990): 384–387.
  • Kenneth E. Foote, “To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture,” American Archivist 53 (Summer 1990)
  • Kenneth E. Foote, “To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture,” American Archivist 53 (Summer 1990)
  • Kenneth E. Foote, “To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture,” American Archivist 53 (Summer 1990)
  • Kenneth E. Foote, “To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture,” American Archivist 53 (Summer 1990)
  • Virginia Tech assembled an archive detailing the April 16, 2007 shooting on their campus in which 32 people were left dead. This archive of over 87,000 items was developed with the help of consultants from the Library of Congress and was put into the works only days after the shootings. People from all over the world sent gifts and tokens of their condolences to Tech, most notably a gift of 33,000 paper cranes. However, many of the items were not chosen to be preserved due to their medium, like the 32 cakes that were sent, one to honor each victim. With such a tragic subject to address, having to throw away any item of support at all was heartbreaking, but the Library of Congress recommended that only 5 percent of the physical objects that were received be kept. Brent Jesiek, manager of the Center for Digital Discourse and Culture at Tech, has cited many challenges in assembling an archive of this nature and choosing the items to be preserved. “One of the challenges we’ve had with the archive, especially in the immediate aftermath, is a lot of people wanted to view it as a memorial, as a tribute site,” he said. “And in a way it is. But it is not just that. We’ve tried to be very agnostic in the type of material we collect,” such as a comic strip series chronicling SeungHui Cho’s struggles. In all, the team decided to put their focus on the archive as a research project, as a repository for exhibiting the act of mourning and bring people together.Theresa Vargas, “Preserving the Outpouring of Grief,” Washington Post (Washington, DC, August 19, 2007), sec. Metro, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/18/AR2007081800588.html.“Virginia Tech April 16, 2007 Archives of the University Libraries,” Virginia Tech Digital Library and Archives, n.d., http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/prevail/index.html.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.’s International Archival Programs Division (IAPD) work to locate unpublished archival collections from around the world that are evidential of the Holocaust and its impact. This evidence is considered endangered due to the subject matter. The IAPD team travels the world acquiring these materials, no easy task because many of it is hidden within government repositories, private corporations, Jewish communities, and individual personal collections. Professor Raul Hilberg, an accomplished Holocaust researcher, asserts that only 20 percent of Holocaust documentation has been discovered so far. As the IAPD has progressed, they have become an agency of the U.S. Government and have gained access to previously restricted areas. Many times when documents are discovered they are in terrible condition due to their age and improper storage. Currently the Museum’s Archives have almost 42 million pages of documentation and all are available to researchers. According to their website they state that part of the importance of this project is because “archival evidence is a fundamental resource for confronting Holocaust denial, contemporary anti-Semitism, and racist ideology, as well as for challenging national myths about the Holocaust.RaduIoanid, “International Archival Acquisitions,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d., http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/acquisitions/.
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Memory of the World Programme was created to preserve, create access, and increase awareness of the world’s documentary heritage. The program began in 1992 and is overseen by the International Advisory Committee (IAC). When an item is selected to be part of the Memory of the World Register it has to go up against a series of guidelines. It is prefaced in the guidelines that there is “no absolute measure of cultural significance.” Its first test is that of authenticity. Next the IAC has to be sure that the item is of world significance through how unique or irreplaceable the item is and the level of impact the item created on the world, whether that is positive or negative. Third, it must satisfy at least one or more of the following five criterions: accurately reflects the time it was created, the place of its creation, document a major development in human history, representative of a historical or intellectual subject or theme, and/or an aesthetic appeal. Additionally, the item will be evaluated on its rarity, integrity, threat of extinction, and management plan.“Programme Objectives,” UNESCO Memory of the World, 2011 1995, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/flagship-project-activities/memory-of-the-world/homepage/.Ray Edmondson, ed., “Memory of the World General Guidelines to Safeguard Documentary Heritage” (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Information Society Division, Revised edition 2002), 21–23, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001256/125637e.pdf.
  • I have argued here that there is a need for archivists to appraise documents that cover a wide range of civilizations, movements, and people. I have also said that I think we have a long way to go before we see any sort of improvement in the area. However, there are little embers of progress out there that will hopefully catch fire before it is too late. More archivists these days are deciding to preserve documents that touch on such areas as women and ethnic minorities, the impoverished, the LGBT community, or political extremists. Documenting these groups is not an easy process and a lot of times it will end up to be subjective upon the archivist. We might not know who owns a group’s history. For example, many objects and materials belonging to Native Americans are for their use only, so we must respect those cultural artifacts and be open-minded about how to best preserve them. Minority groups have started to set about creating their own historical record that has been denied to them for so long, but if they are focusing on their past, who is focusing on their future? If we do not make changes here, there will never truly be justice or an understanding of where human beings have been.Jimerson, “Embracing the Power of Archives.”
  • Transcript of "Archival Appraisal and Preserving Memory"

    1. 1. Archival Appraisal and Preserving Memory An examination of past and present theories and initiatives, and a call for concern over the future.1
    2. 2. "If an item does not appear in our records, it does not2 exist.― –Jocasta Nu, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
    3. 3. Mnemoysne The Greek Goddess of Memory3
    4. 4. The Memory Metaphor  Why do we have archives?  Metaphor of archives and collective memory going hand in hand  Material objects and documents linked to interaction and communication between humans  Tangible objects are valued higher than oral histories4
    5. 5. Two Modes of Memory  Primary or Functional Mode  Secondary or Storage Mode  Information we keep to reflect upon or use ―Archiving the future. again in is not about history looking backward, but about storing and securing for the future.‖5 –Eric Ketelaar
    6. 6. Collective Memory  Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912).  Coined the phrase ―collective consciousness‖6
    7. 7. Collective Memory  Maurice Halbwachs, The Social Frameworks of Memory (1925). Pupil of Durkheim.  ―It is in society that people normally acquire their memories. It is also in society that they recall, recognize, and localize their7 memories.‖
    8. 8. Ministry of Truth  George Orwell, 1984  Employees rewrite history and falsify records  Doublethink  "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. Who controls the past ran the Party slogan, controls the8 future: who controls the
    9. 9. Collective Memory  In the 1970s, historian Howard Zinn publicly spoke out about his discontent with archives  Believed there was an incomplete representation of minority social groups9
    10. 10. ―History is written by the victors‖  Since Roman and medieval times, leaders have asserted their authority through documentation  Only the upper classes were educated, they were the ones being recorded  In choosing to preserve one memory, others are not10
    11. 11. Documentation Gap  Underdogs are still not having their voices heard  Women, ethnic minorities, the poor, LGBT community, political extremists  Some groups have begun to create own historical record  ―Archival activism‖-Ian Johnston11
    12. 12. Orwell on the Documentation Gap  "It will never be  "When I think of possible to get a antiquity, the detail completely accurate that frightens me is and unbiased account that those hundreds of the Barcelona of millions of slaves fighting, because the on whose backs necessary records do civilization rested not exist. Future generation after historians will have generation have left nothing to go upon behind them no except a mass of record whatever.―— accusations and party Homage to Catalonia12 propaganda.‖—A
    13. 13. ―Take the trouble to compile a whole new world of documentary material, about the lives, desires, needs, of ordinary people." This would help ensure "that the condition, the grievances, the will of the underclasses become a force in the nation.‖13 Howard Zinn, Secrecy, Archives,
    14. 14. Houses of Memory  Jean-Pierre Wallot, former National Archivist of Canada, President of the Royal Society of Canada  Coined the term ―houses of memory‖ in 1991 Presidential address  Archivist‘s role to be the ―keys to collective memory‖14
    15. 15. ―As for archivists, they carry a heavy burden. They hold the keys to the collective memory. In this world of superficiality and ‗instant‘ everything, they must, more than ever before, develop the treasures of our ‗houses of memory.‘‖ Jean-Pierre Wallot, Building a15 Living Memory for the History of
    16. 16. The Archival Temple  Control of archivists over  Those that are kept are social/collective memory given more value  Inside the temple there  Lasting impact on society are records about human  ―We are what we collect, civilization and we choose we collect what we are.‖— which of those we want to Elizabeth Kaplan keep16
    17. 17. Appraising Difficult Topics  Easier to leave tragic events in the past than to remember them  Reason‘s behind the tragedy and players in it dictate what is remembered  Documentation destruction and revision to destroy memories  Effacement of documentation occurs through a variety of mediums, especially architectural  ―Features recalled with pride are apt to be safeguarded against erosion and vandalism; those that reflect shame may be ignored or expunged from the landscape.‖-David Lowenthal, Past17 Time, Present Place: Landscape and Memory, 1975.
    18. 18. Salem Witch Trials18
    19. 19. Nazi Germany19
    20. 20. Boston Massacre20
    21. 21. John Wayne Gacy21
    22. 22. Virginia Tech Massacre Archive  Had over 87,000 items  Many items were not good candidates for preservation  Library of Congress consultants assisted in choosing only 5% of total items for the archive  Focus on appraising objects that exhibited the act of mourning22 and bringing people
    23. 23. Virginia Tech Massacre Archive23 A gift of 33,000 paper cranes were mailed to VT days after the shooting.
    24. 24. Virginia Tech Massacre Archive24 Banners waiting to be accessioned into the archive.
    25. 25. Virginia Tech Massacre Archive A banner of support sent from James Madison University‘s Student Korean Association in25 Harrisonburg, Virginia.
    26. 26. Virginia Tech Massacre Napkin with pen drawings and prose, ―In memory of…‖26
    27. 27. United States Holocaust Museum International Archival Programs  Goal is to locate Division Holocaust-related unpublished archival collections  World-wide effort  Believed that only 20% of Holocaust documentation has been discovered  Museum‘s Archives has almost 42 million pages of documentation so far  Items considered endangered because of27 the subject matter
    28. 28. United States Holocaust Museum International Archival Programs Division28 Many times documents are in a horrible condition when recovered because of their age and improper storage
    29. 29. Selection Criteria 1.Time 2.Place 3.People 4.Subject and theme 5.Form and style29
    30. 30. Conclusion  Identifying the value of a record based upon cultural memory is an important part of appraisal  Opportunities to improve in digital age?  ―Those who tell the stories rule society.‖-Plato30
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