This post is part of an annotated bibliography about archival description. Please click below to read further:
Hedstrom, M. (1993). Descriptive practices for electronic records: Deciding what is essential and imagining what it is possible. Archivaria 36, 53-63.
Hedstrom, Associate Professor, School of Information and Library Studies, University of Michigan, questions whether traditional approaches to description are applicable to electronic records. She suggests using the challenges of digital records to define the purposes of creation; to reassess description’s objects, agents, and timing; and to develop approaches that exploit technology while aligning with archival practice. Description’s essential purposes must allow users to identify, access, understand, authenticate, and interpret meaning. Unfortunately, digital environments focus on data structures and content, not contextual information adequate to support the records’ use as evidence. Hedstrom assesses that the gap between existing practice and the potential for electronic data will narrow with the possibility of exploiting metadata in automated systems, so archivists can capture, rather than create, descriptive information.
Hurley, C. (2005). Parallel provenance: (1) What if anything is archival description? Archives and Manuscripts 33(1), 110-145.
Hurley, a thirty-year veteran of archives programs in Australia and New Zealand, notes that through description, archivists create a single perspective of provenance and a fixed internal structure for the collection. Hurley views provenance as more than simple relationships between units that tell stories of context and structure. He argues that the dynamic relationships and formation of records and the functions in which they took part cannot be properly described within the narrowness of the internationally standardized idea of archival description. Instead, he suggests a parallel provenance that contextualizes alternative narratives about the records into a single ambient description with multiple provenances that enriches the evidential meaning of the records.