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Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Introduction to Archives for Rare Book Librarians

Preliminary Advices

Required Reading

Read these six items before coming to Charlottesville. They will provide important contextual information for the course. Please note the information in the next section about how to acquire course readings.

  1. Please acquire your own copy of this Society of American Archivists (SAA) manual, read it, and bring it to class.
    • Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS). Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004.

      Read introductory material (pp. v-xxi) and Chapter 1 (pp. 7-11); peruse the rest and think about similarities and differences from other content standards (e.g. AACR2) with which you may be familiar. DACS is the U.S. content standard for archival description.

  2. Consider purchasing the following anthology, which includes two of the required readings, as well as many other seminal articles (all of which we recommend to you as worthwhile). However you obtain them, read the Greene and Samuels articles.
    • Jimerson, Randall C., ed. American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2000.
      1. Greene, Mark. “‘The Surest Proof’: A Utilitarian Approach to Appraisal.” Archivaria 45 (Spring 1998), 127-169. Reprinted in Jimerson, 301-342.
      2. Samuels, Helen Willa. “Who Controls the Past?” The American Archivist 49 (Spring 1986), 109-124. Reprinted in Jimerson, 193-210.
  3. Additional required readings (Admitted students who are having trouble finding these articles should contact RBS.)
    • Greene, Mark A. and Dennis Meissner. “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing. ” The American Archivist 68 (Fall/Winter 2005), 208-263.  Highly influential research study on ways to make archival processing more cost effective.  Often referred to as "MPLP."
    • Hirtle, Peter B. “Archives or Assets? The American Archivist 66 (Fall/Winter 2003), 235-247.
    • Cook, Terry. "Remembering the Future: Appraisal of Records and the Role of Archives in Constructing Social Memory." In Blouin, Francis X., Jr., and William G. Rosenberg, eds. Archives, Documentation, and Institutions of Social Memory: Essays from the Sawyer Seminar. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006, 169-181. An excellent synthesis of ideas from the burgeoning literature of reflexivity, which many label postmodern, that has developed over the past decade within the archival profession, led especially by Canadian archivists.

How To Acquire Course Readings

Most monographs can be ordered from the Society of American Archivists (SAA) online publications and products catalog.

The American Archivist is the SAA journal. All articles in vols. 63-68 (2000-2005) are freely available online. Earlier volumes are not yet online. The three latest years are open to SAA members and are available online for purchase by non-members.

Archivaria is the journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA).  All articles from 1975-2002 are available online in e-Archivaria.

Recommended Reading

Read these if you have time, before or after the course.

Professional context

  1. Fleckner, John A. “‘Dear Mary Jane’: Some Reflections on Being an Archivist.” The American Archivist 54 (Winter 1991), 8-13. Reprinted in Jimerson, 21-28.
  2. Jimerson, Randall C. “Embracing the Power of Archives.” The American Archivist 69 (Spring/Summer 2006), 19-32.
  3. Gilliland-Swetland, Luke J. "The Provenance of a Profession: The Permanence of the Public Archives and Historical Manuscripts Traditions in American Archival History." The American Archivist 54 (Spring 1991), 160-175. (Jimerson, 123-141)

Collection development and appraisal

  1. Ericson, Timothy L. "At the 'Rim of Creative Dissatisfaction': Archivists and Acquisition Development." Archivaria 33 (Winter 1991/1992), 66-77. (Jimerson, 177-192)
  2. Hyry, Tom, Diane Kaplan, and Christine Weideman. “‘Though This Be Madness, yet There Is Method in ‘t’: Assessing the Value of Faculty Papers and Defining a Collecting Policy.” The American Archivist 65 (Spring/Summer 2002), 56-69.
  3. Swain, Ellen D. “Oral History and the Archives: Its Documentary Role in the 21st Century.” The American Archivist 66 (Spring/Summer 2003), 139-158.

Processing and description

  1. Hensen, Steven L. “Squaring the Circle: The Reformation of Archival Description in AACR2. ” Library Trends 36 (Winter 1988), 539-552.
  2. MacNeil, Heather. “Picking Our Text: Archival Description, Authenticity, and the Archivist as Editor. ” The American Archivist 68 (Fall/Winter 2005), 264-278.
  3. McCrea, Donna E. “Getting More for Less: Testing a New Processing Model at the University of Montana. ” The American Archivist 69 (Fall/Winter 2006), 284-290.  An implementation of MPLP. [see no. 2 above]
  4. Pitti, Daniel V. “Encoded Archival Description: The Development of an Encoding Standard for Archival Finding Aids. ” The American Archivist 60 (summer 1997), 268-283, reprinted in Jimerson, 395-416.
  5. Weideman, Christine. “Accessioning as Processing. ” The American Archivist 69 (Fall/Winter 2006), 274-283.  An implementation of MPLP.
  6. Working Group on Standards for Archival Description. Report and recommendations of the working group. The American Archivist 52 (Fall 1989), 440-477.  Seminal work establishing the groundwork for recognition of the importance of standards for the archival profession.

Reference, outreach, and users

  1. Finch, Elsie Freeman. "In the Eye of the Beholder: Archives Administration from the User's Point of View." The American Archivist 47 (Spring 1984), 111-123. (Jimerson, 417-431)
  2. Gilliland-Swetland, Anne J., Yasmin B. Kafai, and William E. Landis. "Integrating Primary Sources into the Elementary School Classroom: A Case Study of Teachers' Perspectives." Archivaria 48 (1999), 89-116.
  3. Krause, Magia Ghetu and Elizabeth Yakel. "Interaction in Virtual Archives: The Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections Next-Generation Finding Aid." The American Archivist 70 (Fall/Winter 2007), 282-314.
  4. Prom, Christopher J. "User Interactions with Electronic Finding Aids in a Controlled Setting." The American Archivist 67 (Fall/Winter 2004), 234-268.

The following monographs, published by the Society of American Archivists, may also be of use to students in this class who are dealing with archival issues in the course of their jobs.

  1. Behrnd-Klodt, Menzi L. and Peter J. Wosh, eds. Privacy and Confidentiality Perspectives: Archivists and Archival Records. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005.
  2. Archival Fundamentals Series II.

  3. Boles, Frank. Selecting and Appraising Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005.
  4. Kurtz, Michael J. Managing Archival and Manuscript Repositories. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004.
  5. O'Toole, James M. and Richard J. Cox. Understanding Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006.
  6. Pearce-Moses, Richard. A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005. Also available online: http://www.archivists.org/glossary/term_details.asp?DefinitionKey=1185 .
  7. Pugh, Mary Jo. Providing Reference Services for Manuscripts and Archives. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005.
  8. Roe, Kathleen D. Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005.