What do you consider essential reading about archives?

What readings do you consider the most influential on your thoughts/practice as an archivist? Which readings are essential for the field?

If you’re not an archivist, what readings have informed your knowledge of archives?

Update–responses so far from Twitter and Facebook

Peter Hirtle, Authenticity in a Digital Environment, CLIR, 2000:  https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub92/pub92.pdf

Gerald Ham, The Archival Edge, American Archivist, Jan. 1975:


John MacDonald, Managing Records in a Modern Office: Taming the Wild Frontier, Archivaria 29 Spring 1995: http://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/12069/13047

Lucy Suchman, Making Work Visible, Communications of the ACM, Sept 1995: http://guzdial.cc.gatech.edu/hci-seminar/uploads/1/Suchman’s+Making+Work+Visible.pdf

Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever, 1998 https://www.amazon.com/Archive-Fever-Freudian-Impression-Postmodernism/dp/0226143678


Elsie Freeman, “Buying Quarter Inch Holes: Public Support Through Results” Midwestern Archivist, 1985:  https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/45944

Terry Cook, “What is past is prologue: a history of archival ideas since 1898, and the future paradigm shift.” Archivaria 43 (1997): 17-63 http://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/12175/13184

Terry Cook and Joan M. Schwartz, “Archives, Records, and Power: From (Postmodern) Theory to (Archival) Performance.” Archival Science 2, no. 3-4 (2002):171–185. https://www.nyu.edu/classes/bkg/methods/cook.pdf

Bruce Dearstyne, Leading and managing archives and records programs: strategies for success, 2008 https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Managing-Archives-Records-Programs/dp/1555706150

Peter Scott (1966) The Record Group Concept: A Case for Abandonment. The American Archivist: October 1966, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 493-504:  http://americanarchivist.org/doi/10.17723/aarc.29.4.y886054240174401

Elisabeth Yakel, but especially “Thinking Inside and Outside the Boxes”

Luciana Duranti, Archives as a Place, Archives & Social Studies: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Research Vol. 1, no. 0 (March 2007) http://archivo.cartagena.es/files/36-165-DOC_FICHERO1/07-duranti_archives.pdf

Joan M. Schwartz, “Records of Simple Truth and Precision”: Photography, Archives, and the Illusion of Control, Archivaria Fall 2000 http://www.archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/12763/13951

Reto Tschan, A Comparison of Jenkinson and Schellenberg on Appraisal, American Archivist Fall/Winter 2002: http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.65.2.920w65g3217706l1

Luciana Duranti, Diplomatics: New Uses for an Old Science, Archivaria, Summer 1989: http://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/viewFile/11567/12513

Tim Gollins, Parsimonious preservation: preventing pointless processes! (The small simple steps that take digital preservation a long way forward), 2009  

S. Williams Implications of Archival Labor, https://medium.com/on-archivy/implications-of-archival-labor-b606d8d02014#.wyb8jlp3y

Jarrett M. Drake, Insurgent citizens: the manufacture of police records in post-Katrina New Orleans and its implications for human rights, Archival Science October 2014 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10502-014-9224-2

Michelle Caswell and Marika Cifor, From Human Rights to Feminist Ethics: Radical Empathy in the Archives, Archivaria, Spring 2016 http://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13557

Randall C. Jimerson, Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice, 2009 http://saa.archivists.org/store/archives-power-memory-accountability-and-social-justice/1354/

Mark D. Wolfe, “Beyond ‘‘green buildings:’’ exploring the effects of Jevons’ Paradox on the sustainability of archival practices, 2011.

Terry Cook, Heather MacNeil and Luciana around authenticity and reliability.Verne Harris, Terry Cook & Joan Schwartz, Rand Jimerson

Everything ever written about appraisal (“It was easier than saying Taylor/Greene/Cook/Samuels/Eastwood/Boles/Ericson ;”)

More updates from Facebook and Twitter: 

Ernst Posner’s American State Archives, Archives & the Public Interest: selected essays,  and Archives in the ancient world. (“None of them end up being the book you thought you were going to read.”)

Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner, “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing,” American Archivist Fall/Winter 2005 http://www.archivists.org/prof-education/pre-readings/IMPLP/AA68.2.MeissnerGreene.pdf

Laurie Baty’s “Photographs are not Wallpaper.”

Scott Cline, “’Dust Clouds of Camels Shall Cover You’: Covenant and the Archival Endeavor.” American Archivist Fall/Winter 2012 http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.75.2.03193j1517858r34

Randall C. Jimerson, “Archives for All: Professional Responsibility and Social Justice,” American Archivist Fall/Winter 2007 http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.70.2.5n20760751v643m7

Eric Ketelaar, “Archival Temples, Archival Prisons: Modes of Power and Protection,” Archival Science 2, 2002 http://home.hccnet.nl/e.ketelaar/ArchivalTemples.pdf

Michel Duchein, “Theoretical Principles and Practical Problems of Respect des fonds in Archival Science,” Archivaria Summer 1983 


Terry Cook, “The Concept of the Archival Fonds in the Post-Custodial Era: Theory, Problems and Solutions,” Archivaria, Spring 1993 http://arqtleufes.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/94919891/COOK%20TERRY_The%20Concept%20of%20the%20Archival%20Fonds.pdf

Timothy J. Gilfoyle, “Prostitutes in the Archives: Problems and Possibilities in Documenting the History of Sexuality,” American Archivist Summer 1994 http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.57.3.p74tr646p6r530lv

Terry Cook, “Evidence, memory, identity, and community: four shifting archival paradigms,” Archival Science June 2013 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10502-012-9180-7

Francis X. Blouin, Jr. and William G. Rosenberg, Editors, Archives, Documentation, and Institutions of Social Memory: Essays from the Sawyer Seminar,” 2006 https://muse.jhu.edu/book/351

Elisabeth Kaplan, “We Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are: Archives and the Construction of Identity,” American Archivist Spring/Summer 2000 http://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/42433/1/kaplan_we_are_what.pdf

Terry Cook, “Fashionable Nonsense or Professional Rebirth: Postmodernism and the Practice of Archives,” Archivaria Spring 2001 http://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/12792

Anne Gilliland and Sue McKemmish, “Building an Infrastructure for Archival Research,” Archival Science December 2004 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10502-006-6742-6

Sue McKemmish, “Evidence of Me,” The Australian Library Journal 1996 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00049670.1996.10755757

Elizabeth Yakel, “Archival Representation,” Archival Science 2003 https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/41831/10502_2004_Article_5139967.pdf?sequence=1

Ciaran B. Trace, “What is Recorded is Never Simply ‘What Happened’: Record Keeping in Modern Organizational Culture,” Archival Science 2002 https://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~cbtrace/pubs/CBT_ArchScience_2002.pdf

Eric Ketelaar, Tacit Narratives: The Meanings of Archives, Archival Science 2001 https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/41812

Verne Harris, Archives and Justice: A South African Perspective, 2013 http://saa.archivists.org/store/archives-and-justice-a-south-african-perspective-pdf/3691/

Antoinette Burton editor, Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History, 2006 https://www.dukeupress.edu/archive-stories

Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology (1992) https://amzn.com/088784636X

Lee Raine and Barry Wellman, Networked: The New Social Operating System 2014 https://amzn.com/0262526166


Jefferson Bailey, Disrespect des Fonds: Rethinking Arrangement and Description in Born-Digital Archives, Archive Journal Summer 2013 http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/3/archives-remixed/disrespect-des-fonds-rethinking-arrangement-and-description-in-born-digital-archives/



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3 thoughts on “What do you consider essential reading about archives?”

  1. This is great; I adjunct teach an intro to archives class and in the future I plan to direct my students to this page in advance of their lit reviews!

  2. Any way you could put these in some sort of order — by author, by title, by publication date?

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