This post is part of an annotated bibliography about archival description. Please click below to read further:
Beattie, H. (2008). Where narratives meet: Archival description, provenance, and women’s diaries. Libraries & the Cultural Record 44(1), 82-100.
Beattie, Archivist in Description and Client Services, Hudson Bay Company Archives, discusses how archivists can improve description of personal papers and diaries by expanding provenance to include the writer’s motivation, intended audience, custodial history, and the archivist’s representation. Although archivists tend to remain neutral custodians of the historical record, Beattie urges using description methods and aspects of provenance taken from the humanities, which offer richer portrayals of diaries—women’s diaries, in particular. Deeper contextual information, rather than literary, overly subjective interpretations and descriptions, will assist users to better understand these intimate records. Beattie illustrates her points with passages from three women’s diaries at the Hudson Bay Company Archives and the Archives of Manitoba.
Chaudron, G. (2008). The potential of “function” as an archival descriptor. Journal of Archival Organization 6(4), 269-287.
Chaudron, Assistant Professor, Manuscripts, Mississippi State University, notes that while functional analysis has been used for appraisal methods, such as documentation strategy, the Minnesota Method, and macroappraisal, it can also be used for description. Influenced by records management practices, functional analysis allows archivists to examine the structures, processes, and activities of the organization beyond record creation, providing users with a broader view of how records reflected, and were part of, the functions of the organization. However, function cannot be applied as the principal descriptor for all records; while it works for institutional records, it has limited use with manuscripts. When used with traditional descriptive methods, however, functional descriptors can enhance information quality and access.