Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 1, No 1 (2012)

History, Archives and the Internet

Jean-Claude Robert
Département d’histoire, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada


The relationship between historians and archives is generally taken for granted. But this impression is misleading. Across the world, the building of archival collections involves a complicated process of selection and destruction. Traditionally, historians do not really know how this process is being conducted and very often a good proportion of them believe that all documents should be kept. The evolution of history and the questioning of the archives by philosophers cannot be ignored and these have changed the relationship between historians and archives. However, the construction of tomorrow’s archives is happening right now, and historians should be prepared to find a way to participate in this operation. The role of archivists is central in the whole process. In the past, archivists generally received a basic training as historians, but since the 1950s, they have been more and more involved with other disciplines like library or information sciences. They became professionals in a new discipline. Historians should take notice of this reality and be prepared to work with archivists on an equal footing. They must learn what archivists are doing and join them to help create archival collections for the future. The last part of the paper takes a quick looks at the evolution of the Internet as an addition, or rather than as an extension, of archival holdings.


construction of tomorrow’s archives; archive; record; history; archivist; historian

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Copyright (c) 2012 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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