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Processing the PastContesting Authorities in History and the Archives$
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Francis X. Blouin, Jr and William G. Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199740543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199740543.001.0001

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The Archivist as Activist in the Production of (Historical) Knowledge

The Archivist as Activist in the Production of (Historical) Knowledge

(p.140) 8 The Archivist as Activist in the Production of (Historical) Knowledge
Processing the Past

Francis X. Blouin Jr.

William G. Rosenberg (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Reflecting the discussion of new “identity archives,” this chapter details the mediating practices of archivists and archives more generally in forming the historical record. It sets out for the first time in any general study the overt and mostly undisclosed roles that archivists have historically played in selecting materials for preservation, determining categories for classification, and controlling access. For historians, the chapter analyzes the archival processes that affect how their studies can be written, refracting the archivists’ traditional commitment to “professional objectivity” through the administrative prisms that determine the knowledge that archives and their archivists produce. Although designed to be read in sequence, this and other chapters are also written to be comprehensible for readers and classroom instructors who might want to use the book more selectively.

Keywords:   selection, records survey, classified documents, objectivity, the reading room, records processing, identity archives, collecting institutions, special collections, manuscript repositories

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