From the Archives: Versions of History in Two Collections: Assessing the Purpose and Conclusions of Compilers

Tracing the work of scholars.

Defence-In-Depth

ANNA BRINKMAN

There are few moments more satisfying, or tantalizing, for an historian than looking through the catalogue of an archive and discovering that it holds vast repositories of material relevant to one’s research. . Though catalogues give an idea of the material contained in a collection, with varying degrees of accuracy, it is always a toss up as to whether the documents will be of use, or simply another collection crossed off a list with the annotation ‘nothing of use’. In either case, often the most important questions that arise from working with a collection are concerned with its creation. Who compiled it and when? Why did they choose to include or exclude certain material? What was it’s original purpose?

Any given collection presents an edited version of historical events and, more importantly, tends to reflect a set of determining factors as to why events transpired as they did…

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