Archivists have a close connection with history, but there are very different concepts about the nature of this relationship.The term ‘to archive’ encompasses a number of functions and activities carried out by an archivist in the course of their professional duties, including acquisition, appraisal, selection, arrangement, cataloguing and preservation, to enable future generations of historians and other researchers to work with them. Those functions require archivists to interpret the records and collections in their care, as does aspects of access to the collections, incuding the production of exhibitions, presentations and publications. How do archivists ensure objectivitiy and impartiality and is this possible? Do archivists create history in the course of their professional duties through decision-making during acquisition, selection and interpretation? How also do archivists know what might be of interest for historians in the future? Should they consult their users about that? Or should they, as a part of their professional duties, follow actual research and methodological discussions in history to react to changing preferences and aspects of historical research?
Often, archivists are asked to produce historical works concerning the institution they are working in: exhibitions, brochures, even books describing the history of the institution. So, do they have to be trained historians as well as archivists? In Central Europe, for example, (including Germany and Austria as well) there is a long tradition that archivists, particularly those with an academic background, are expected – as a part of their professional profile as archivists – to participate actively in historical research, editing documents, publishing professional books and articles on historical subjects.
University and research institution archives may have a particularly close organizational connection with the historical profession, especially if they are affiliated with the history department or headed by a professor in history. In this case, archivists themselves may be actively engaged in historical research, which may lead to a conflict of interest with their professional duties as archivists and/or records managers (e.g. in terms of collection development or sharing knowledge regarding primary sources). This Conference will explore the different professional profiles of archivists as historians within an international perspective.
The 2010 Conference Programme Committee invites you to submit proposals for the SUV annual conference. Within the following themes we seek individual or panel proposals, the aim being to encourage discussion and debate throughout each session. Proposals should be analytical, not descriptive, and should reflect the changing nature of archival cultures, traditions, theory, and practice.
Abstracts of 500 words for each presentation (in English), which should aim to last for a maximum of 20 minutes should be submitted to email@example.com no later than Friday 30 April 2010.
Proposals must include a brief CV (1 page) of each speaker.
Themes should focus on the following topics:
1. the practice of acquisition, appraisal, and description and their role in creating or shaping the historical record
2. access and outreach, description and interpretation: the ‘making’ of history and professional impartiality
3. facilitating research in university and research institutions: the role of the archivist
4. archivist as historian?: different national archival traditions and the burdens of a dual role (e.g. in terms of academic training, ongoing education, and just getting the work done)
5. institutional outreach: the archivist as institutional historian
The format of all sessions is intended to promote vigorous debate amongst participants.
29 Sept – 3 Oct 2010, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
International Council on Archives – Section on University and Research Institution Archives (SUV)