American Archivist (Vol. 63, No.1
/ Spring 2000)
Abstracts and Author Bios
the Challenge of Contemporary Records:
Does It Require a Role Change for the Archivist?
archival literature reflects a number of diverse definitions of the role
of the archivist. Many older assessments stress a more cohesive definition:
the need for archivists to be all to all archives, equally representing
users and administrators, creators and researchers. The challenge created
by contemporary records is not to change this fundamental role, first
expressed over two hundred years ago during the French Revolution, but
to create new ways to fulfill it. The task requires making three crucial
distinctions: between the archivist's methods and the archival mission,
between the archivist's work and archival functions, and between professional
issues and archival science issues. Only by learning how to strike a balance
between the needs of archivists as individuals and the collective identity
of the archival profession can the challenges of contemporary records
Duranti is a professor in the Master of Archival Studies Program at the
School of Library, Archival and Information Studies of the University
of British Columbia, Canada, and occupied the position of Associate Dean
Research for the Faculty of Arts from 1997 to 1999. She is also presently
directing an international interdisciplinary research project on the permanent
preservation of the authenticity of electronic records, InterPARES. Prior
to joining UBC in 1987, she was a Researcher-Professor in the Special
School for Archivists and Librarians at the University of Rome, Italy
(1982-87); served as State Archivist in the State Archives of Rome (1978-82);
and was Project Archivist for the Italian National Research Council (1974-77).
She holds a Doctorate in Arts (1973) and graduate degrees in Archival
Science from the University of Rome (1975), and in Archivistics, Paleography,
and Diplomatics from the School of Archivistics, Paleography and Diplomatics
of the State Archives of Rome (1979). Duranti served as President of the
Society of American Archivists from 1998-1999.
Beginnings of the NHPRC Records Program
federal legislation enlarged the scope and function of the National Historical
Publications Commission (NHPC) by providing authority for the Commission
to support archival projects in public and private institutions. The first
six years of the newly formed National Historical Publications and Records
Commission (NHPRC) were devoted to the development of state structures
to assist in the program?s implementation, and national priorities that
could address questions of documentary preservation and enhanced researcher
use. The debates within the Commission and among archivists nationwide
during the start-up period centered on three questions: how much appropriated
funding would be provided to the Commission for grants?; what role should
the states play in shaping and implementing the program?; and what priorities
should be established in order to advance the solution to national research
needs? The staff, the Commission members, the Archivist of the United
States, the state archivists and the professional archival organizations
all became important contributors to the initiation of the first national
effort to improve archival processes and the condition of documentary
resources in the United States.
was executive director of the National Historical Publications and Records
Commission from 1975 to 1988, except for the period from April 1985 to
December 1987 when he was Acting Archivist of the United States, and,
therefore, Acting Chairman of the NHPRC as well. On his retirement from
federal service in 1988, he was appointed professor of archival studies
in the College of Library and Information Services at the University of
Maryland, from which he retired in 1996 as professor emeritus. He continues
to publish professional articles such as the one presented here.
Concept of a National Records Program
and Its Continued Relevance for a New Century
twelve-point statement of National Records Program Elements, this article
examines the concept of a national records program as it was endorsed
and has been adapted by the National Historical Publications and Records
Commission from 1988 to the present. It provides the background and context
for the Commission's endorsement of this statement and lists the elements
adopted. In each of the areas defined, the article reviews and assesses
NHPRC-supported efforts and reflects selectively on the progress made
by the archival profession in the United States. Finally, noting the NHPRC's
role as a collaborative mechanism, the article concludes that the concept
of a national records program has continued relevance, if the archival
profession and its partners can define and work together on three or four
A. Cameron has worked at the National Historical Publications and Records
Commission since June 1988 and is currently the NHPRC's Director for State
Programs. Prior to joining the NHPRC Cameron was the Field Director in
the Division of Library and Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society
from 1980-1988. During that time period he took a year's leave to serve
as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities in the
Research Resources. He began his archival career in 1976 as the University
Archivist and Curator of the Area Research Center at the University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Cameron received his B.A. and M.A.T. from the College
of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and continued his graduate education in American
Literature and Library Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
where he received his archival training at the State Historical Society
NHPRC in the New Records Age
examines the NHPRC's records programs, particularly its electronic records
program, its efforts to strengthen the national archival infrastructure
through collaboration with the states, and its support for archival continuing
education and the documentation of ethnic, racial, gender-based and other
groups representative of diversity within the United States. It discusses
ways in which the NHPRC, created during the 1930s, is rising to the challenges
of a new records age, an age defined not only by the new records formats
which began emerging in the latter decades of the twentieth century, but
also by the political realities confronting archivists at the dawn of
the twenty-first century.
Newhall is the executive director of the National Historical Publications
and Records Commission, a position she has held since August 1998. Previously,
she headed the archives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Ford
Foundation. She began her career in the Department of Manuscripts and
Archives at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library, where she worked
on archival and documentary editing projects. She holds graduate degrees
in history from Southern Connecticut State University and in American
Studies from Yale University.
from the Outside: The NHPRC at Twenty-Five
articles on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission
by Frank Burke, Richard Cameron, and Ann Newhall present different views
of the history and activities of the NHPRC. Taken together, however, they
provide a detailed look at the history of the Commission's records program
and the challenges and opportunities it faces in the new millennium. Much
has been achieved with relatively little funding in the past twenty-five
years, and this is attributable to the talents and energies of the key
players during this time. This record of accomplishment should give the
archival profession hope that greater things can be achieved in the next
recently became director of Libraries and Information Technology at the
University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
at Archives in Art
L. Craig and James M. O'Toole
the depiction of records, documents, books, reading, and writing in art
is more than an aesthetic exercise for archivists. The authors examine
a selection of British and American portraits and genre paintings,
their presentation of records as well as the contexts in which the paintings
were created and the importance of the records depicted. Archivists
use this "iconography of archives" to understand contemporary perceptions
of records by artists, sitters, and viewers, thereby placing textual
more fully in their historical context. Features 16 color illustrations.
L. Craig is an associate professor of archives in the Faculty of Information
Studies of the University of Toronto. She has a Ph.D. in Archives Studies.
Prior to joining the University of Toronto in 1993, she worked as university
archivist and head of Archives and Special Collections at York University,
and from 1970 to 1989 she was an archivist at the Archives of Ontario.
O'Toole is visiting associate professor of history at Boston College.
For fifteen years, he directed the M.A. program in history and archival
methods at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are:
Archives and the Construction of Identity
considers the role of archives and archivists against a backdrop of the
contemporary debate on identity, illustrated by research on the establishment
and early years of the oldest extant ethnic historical society in the
United States-the American Jewish Historical Society-and the construction
of American/Jewish identities. Recent intellectual debate has examined
questions of national, ethnic, gender, class, and community identities,
of individual and group identity, and of the formation of identity.
spectrum of positions has emerged from this debate. On one end, identity
is viewed as "real," intrinsic to individuals and communities or even
biologically based. On the other, identity is conceived of as social
constructed culturally for political and historical reasons. However,
on the whole, serious scholars have rejected the former view. Archivists
should be cognizant of this fact because they are major players in
business of identity politics, whether they are conscious of it or not.
Archivists appraise, collect, and preserve the props with which notions
of identity are built. In turn, notions of identity are confirmed and
justified as historical documents validate their authority.
Kaplan is the archivist at the Charles Babbage Institute for the History
of Information Processing at the University of Minnesota. She has worked
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Archives, the audiovisual
department of the John F. Kennedy Library, and the archives and special
collections department at Iowa State University.
Public Television Programs:
Toward an Interpretive and Comparative Evaluation Model
working with public television materials are faced with a pressing problem.
Given the thousands of hours of extant programming recorded on obsolete
videotape formats, and given the uniqueness of public television programming
as compared to commercially produced fare, how do archivists decide which
programs should be brought into archival custody and what critieria should
guide their selection for preservation and access duplication? Developing
evaluation standards for public television programs requires a historical
understanding of the complex organizational structure of the American
public broadcasting system, a sense of the political issues underlying
its programming, and a feeling for the institutional culture of the system.
These considerations along with traditional and more recent archival appraisal
theory inform an interpretive and comparative evaluation model, which
is demonstrated on four different types of public television programs.
Connors has been archivist and curator at the National Public Broadcasting
Archives at the University of Maryland since 1993.
Publications at Texas A&M University:
A Case Study in Cataloging Archival Material
M. Russell and Robin L. Brandt Hutchison
reorganization and staffing changes at Texas A&M University's Cushing
Library, which houses the university's archives, made necessary the cataloging
of a substantial number of publications produced by different university
agencies and departments, publications which had previously been largely
inaccessible. The authors designed and implemented a plan to catalog
of pamphlets, reports, newsletters, conference proceedings and other
material; a project that resulted in increased exposure and usage. This
outlines the development and ongoing refinement of the project. Undertaken
in a cooperative spirit aimed at creating an integrated catalog of information
resources, this project illustrates ways in which local practices can
be improved through the use of technology.
Russell is s currently head of Special Collections Cataloging at the
Ohio State University Library. Previously, she was original cataloging
at the Cushing Memorial Library, Texas A&M University. She earned an
M.A. in history from the University of Kansas in 1994 and an M.L.I.S.
the University of Texas in 1996.