This post is part of an annotated bibliography about archival description. Please click below to read further:
Millar, L. (2006). An obligation of trust: Speculations on accountability and description. American Archivist 69(1), 60-78.
Millar, an archival and information management consultant and educator, considers the role of archival description for organizational and social accountability. Comparing the answerability of traditional post-hoc archival description to continuum-based records management, she finds that while they are suitable for their fields, neither ensures the wider accountability of institutions to themselves or to the community at large. She envisions blending the accountability strengths of the post-hoc and continuum-based models into a larger, more holistic framework. This description architecture will support expansive institutional and social accountability to ensure the integrity of records of enduring value and the larger spectrum of functions of the organization responsible for creating and preserving those records.
Peters, V. (2005). Developing archival context standards for functions in the higher education sector. Journal of the Society of Archivists 26(1), 75-86.
Peters, Research Archivist, Glasgow University Archive Services, discusses a research project, which used records of Scottish higher education institutions and made the results available on GASHE (Gateway to Archives of Scottish Higher Education). Believing that archival description based on traditional principles of provenance and original order is limited, Peters borrows from records management practices in which the fundamental relationships of records are their functions and activities, rather than their creators. Description of function is more helpful for archivists and researchers, rather than description based on a single, static arrangement, such as administrative structure, which cannot fully preserve the context of the records. This functional provenance approach allowed records of Scottish institutions, dating back to 1215, to be described seamlessly with current records.