Call for: Reasons to the Thankful for Archives (and Archivists)

Last night via their Twitter account the Australian Society of Archivists called attention to a blog post listing “85 Reasons to be Thankful for Librarians” and asked what the archival equivalent would be. A good question, don’t you think? The libraries list included such gems as:

  • Older books still hold great cultural significance.
  • Girls with glasses can still rock the “sexy librarian”  look.
  • Colleges need something to remodel every so often.
  • With their training in instructional design, librarians can help teachers find resources for their curriculum.
  • A library is much MUCH more well cataloged and organized than the internet.
  • Even though libraries themselves may be losing attendance, their online archives and websites are still receiving plenty of visitors.
  • Not everyone can afford books, but everyone has access to the library.
  • If librarians were no longer around, kids wouldn’t understand the opening scene from Ghostbusters.
  • Libraries are where most colleges store some of their history (choir CDs, videos of athletic matches, etc.)

Ok, so the list is a mixture of the tongue-in-cheek and the serious. Could we come up with a list of 85 for archivists? (Well, really archives and archivists.) Let’s find out. I’ll start us off:

1. Archives hold the records that help your document your legal rights.
2. Archivists preserve records about your family’s history.
3. Archivists love to help you find what you’re looking for.
4. Without archives, would we still have that famous picture of Nixon and Elvis? I’m not so sure.
5. Someone has to keep Hollinger Metal Edge in business.
6. Not to mention keeping the makers of white cotton gloves rolling in dough.
7. Archivists can help you do research on your house or property.
8. Without archivists, David McCollough’s books woudn’t be nearly so long, I’m sure.
9. If a couple of hundred years from now people can actually find out where toxic and nuclear waste is buried, I think it will be because of archivists.
10. Archives help people find documentation to hold public figures and governments accountable for their actions.

Ok, there, I’ve started you out with ten. Now it’s up to you. Why should people be thankful for archivists?

Be Sociable, Share!

11 thoughts on “Call for: Reasons to the Thankful for Archives (and Archivists)”

  1. From Michigania on Twitter:

    our staff has saved Michigan millions in false Civil War bonus claims because we have the list of paid bonuses.

  2. Archivists care. They don’t do this work for the pay or the glory, they do it because of what it does: contribute to the economic, social and cultural well-being of our communities.

  3. Without archives, far fewer books would be written.

    Without archives, far fewer people would be aware of the importance of their own documentary history and how to preserve it.

    Without archives, far fewer enthused genealogists would be able to find a captive audience for their ten-hour stories!

  4. Without archives, how would liberal arts (e.g. History and English Literature) doctoral candidates access the primary documents needed to support their research?

  5. Archives are the keys to truth. Second hand sources give you others’ opinions and ideas. Original documents give you the power to interpret events and form your own opinions.

  6. Without archives where would liberal arts majors find employment?

    Without archives how would Gandalf find the answers to saving the world in Lord of the Rings?

  7. The opportunity to dispel all the stereotypes about musty, disorganized archival facilities in basements or attics!

    (And, for that matter, the opportunity for all those wonderful people out there to move their family and business papers out of those basements, attics, barns, and other less-than-desired locales…)

    The opportunity to connect people personally and directly to the past, whether through finding family records or more simply through seeing firsthand “the old stuff”

  8. Someone has to be able to gently, oh so gently, steer people away from their absolutely certain beliefs that: a) a Coat of Arms belongs to anyone of the same name; b) everyone is descended from royalty, particularly William the Conqueror, Robert the Bruce, Edward I, and Charlemagne; c) all Southerners with obviously Irish names that are not “Scots-Irish” are really descended from French Huguenots and d) the entire company of both the Continental line and militia in the American Revolution was composed of officers (mostly Col.s with a few Capt.s) from who everyone who is doing their genealogy is descended. (BTW- all of these applied to my great-grandmother and, to some degree, many of my living relatives.)


    My dentist says that God made archivists so that the profession of dentistry would sound exciting by comparison.

  9. Archives are FUN, it’s a constant treasure hunt

    Archives are for the PEOPLE, we don’t want them closed in boxes no more

    Archives are our collective MEMORY and HISTORY, how else would we remember the past?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.