Historical Archiving – Creating the Human Story

“Unlike libraries, archives don’t organize individual items by subject matter” “Archives primarily collect records”. “Once archivists have arranged and described records, they become an accessible part of the human story.

Archival Records

When this farmer recorded the tasks completed by his farmhands, he didn’t know he was also recording for posterity information about labour practices, the cost of living, and even climate change

“Documentary trails – Records accumulated over a person’s life, or over the period an organization functions, reveal even more about human activity. Patterns and interconnections between records shed light on how a person lived, or on how an organization carried out its business”.

“The whole body of records is more than the sum of its parts. In fact, a lot of what we can learn from an individual record is actually related to other records around it. If individual records are footprints, groups of records are like trails of footprints showing routes and detours”.

Perkins Bull Fonds

This file of mixed record types from Peel’s famous William Perkins Bull fonds demonstrates the importance of keeping related records together. It contains documents concerning William Perkins Bull’s mysteriously aborted attempt to erect a monument dedicated to the Irish Regiment of Canada in Toronto’s Armoury using imported stones from Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. The documents in this file include many letters, together with some blueprints, photographs, and sketches.

Taken from How do archivists organize collections?  by Samantha Thompson  Archives @ PAMA, Region of Peel

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