Archives and Manuscripts: Week 1

A new semester has started and with it a new blog for my class, Archives and Manuscripts for Public Historians and Managers of Cultural Institutions. Each week, I will blog on our class readings and discussions and any other important archival topics. This week however, I wanted to give some background on my experiences with archives and my expectations for the class. This should be a very rewarding class since within the field of Public History, I wish to pursue a career as an archivist. While I have already done work in a number of the archives throughout the city, this course will help ground my experience with the practical knowledge and history of the field.Furthermore, since some of my experiences have dealt with unique archival challenges, such as processing the Independence Seaport Museum’s Becuna collection, which had lost all original order after being improperly stored on the submarine for 40 years, this class will assist in my understanding of processing and caring for more traditional records. ┬áBesides the practical knowledge I look to gain from this class, I am also excited for discussing on the nature of archives themselves and what they can tell us how we understand the past. Indeed, since archives are our windows into the past, they help shape how we interact with it and due to this, the job of the archivist is critical since he or she decides what is saved. This raises important ethical questions over how one decides what to save because the archivist’s potential biases could effect how the past is understood. As this class progresses throughout the semester, I look forward to developing my views on the archivist’s responsibility when collecting, persevering, and sharing the records in his or her care.

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