Archival Guides and the National Archives of Australia

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Western Ontario]On: 13 November 2014, At: 18:54Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Australian Academic &amp; ResearchLibrariesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Archival Guides and the NationalArchives of AustraliaMichael Piggott aa Archives consultant, and adjunct lecturer , Charles SturtUniversity , Wagga Wagga , 2678 E-mail:Published online: 08 Jul 2013.</p><p>To cite this article: Michael Piggott (2012) Archival Guides and the National Archives of Australia,Australian Academic &amp; Research Libraries, 43:2, 146-154, DOI: 10.1080/00048623.2012.10722267</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>146 Australian Academic &amp; Research Libraries</p><p>Michael Piggott</p><p>A series of guides published by the National Archives of Australia (NAA) is considered against the background of various definitions and examples of archival guides produced in Australia during the past sixty years. The author then discusses the range of NAA guides: in particular, its so-called research guides, including the latest, published on-line and in hard copy, which surveys Commonwealth records about the Northern Territory. The article draws comparisons with the National librarys Trove system and ends with questions about the purpose of these guides, given the NAAs overall strategy for public discovery and its other information retrieval and promotional tools. </p><p>Michael Piggott. Archives consultant, and adjunct lecturer, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga 2678. Email:</p><p>in 1991, the then Australian Archives published Lighthouses in Australia. A guide to records held by the Australian Archives. it appeared as Subject Guide No 1. during the following twenty years, the Archives and its successor, the National Archives of Australia (NAA), produced an impressive number of guides on particular subjects, themes and events. Now called research guides, their subjects almost defy generalisation. There have also been guides to archives about individual Australian prime ministers and relations between them. </p><p>Since the late 1990s, NAA has included within its research guides list a sub-theme concentrating on either the holdings of a particular state office or its holdings about a particular state or territory. The first of these was Celia blakes Collections in Melbourne. A guide to Commonwealth Government records and the latest is Ted lings </p><p>ArChiVAl GuidES ANd ThE NATiONAl ArChiVES OF AuSTrAliA</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f W</p><p>este</p><p>rn O</p><p>ntar</p><p>io] </p><p>at 1</p><p>8:54</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>June 2012 147Volume 43 Number 2</p><p>Michael Piggott</p><p>Commonwealth Government records about the Northern Territory . The author is currently contracted to write A guide to Commonwealth Government records about Tasmania.</p><p>To begin to make proper sense of this twenty year output, we need to </p><p>it is hard to resist answering that, on the evidence of the variety coming out of the Australian archives and records sector, archival guides must be pretty much any document an archive intends people to use as a guide. To the compilers of the premier Australian Society of Archivists text Keeping Archives, guides did not warrant a separate explanation, being just one of many kinds of finding aids. These, in turn, are:</p><p>Tools to guide users to the information they are seeking from or about archives, to aid access. They provide additional access points to the archival collections. Types of finding aids include registers, guides, inventories and indexes and may be in hard copy or electronic form (p. 635). </p><p>Guides are not addressed either in the only other relevant Australian text, Describing archives in context: A guide to Australasian practice. its authors saw finding aids as outputs of description while observing that archival institutions will choose a range of outputs that are appropriate for their business needs. The latest Society of American Archivists glossary (2005), however, does define archival guides. it too links guides to the broader term finding aids, but specifically states that guides are a broad description of the holdings at one or more archives, typically at the collection level, then mentions some of the variety including a repository guide, an inter repository guide, and guides that describe collections relating to a specific subject, often called a subject guide or a thematic guide. </p><p>A third approach comes from deep inside the National library of Australias online Guide to the papers of Sir Edmund Barton. At a webpage headed About Finding Aids, we learn that librarians and archivists create a finding aid to provide information about the arrangement, content and context of an archival collection. in short, finding aids and guides are the same thing. more helpfully, however, the librarys explanation gives a sense of the structure of a guide.</p><p>Such attempts to set the bounds of the thing we label archival guides remind one of efforts to nail jelly to a wall. What surely is common to guides, however, is how the axes of breadth and depth locate them. All guides incorporate specific coordinates of breadth of purview and the depth of descriptive detail. Each guide obviously has in mind a body of records it intends to guide researchers around or to excite their interest in. At the narrow end, this typically comprises a single collection, a fonds (or depending on your tradition, an archive group or record group), a record series, or set of series created by a particular </p><p>traverse the predictable ground of definitions and history. </p><p>WHATAREARCHIVALgUIDES?</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f W</p><p>este</p><p>rn O</p><p>ntar</p><p>io] </p><p>at 1</p><p>8:54</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>148 Australian Academic &amp; Research Libraries</p><p>Archival Guides and the National Archives of Australia</p><p>entity. At the broadest end, the guides focus spans across many of these and sometimes even across institutions, sectors, jurisdictions or international borders. They are static, predetermined answers to a presumed question. They are a ham cheese and tomato sandwich waiting to see who is interested in that preset combination, not Subway. Only some, strictly speaking, are archival. Time for some history.</p><p>1950s-1970s:WHENARCHIVALgUIDESWEREARCHIVALAs with so much of the story of modern Australian archival development, the first archival guides resulted from the visit of the uS Fulbright lecturer dr T. r. Schellenberg in 1954. intending to give government archivists a project which underlined their distinctiveness as a new profession separate from librarians, as much as to address an appalling lack of access points into their core holdings, Schellenberg helped initiate work on a national multi-part Guide to Pre-Federation Archives. Within three years, the Guide as a coordinated Commonwealth-State project was abandoned, but the government archivists, though all still subject in one way or another to state libraries, gained enough from the discussions and work on instructions for the preparation of inventories to each begin compiling separate state guides.</p><p>The first appeared in 1957, compiled by the legendary Tasmanian government archivist Peter Eldershaw, as the Guide to the public records of Tasmania, Section One: Colonial Secretarys Office Record Group. it and the three others in this series (on the Convict department 1965, Governors Office 1958 and Free immigration 1975) were works of considerable scholarship and archival principle. They structured their listings and descriptions of record series and selected record items to reveal the organic structure of the creating office and its recordkeeping systems, and introduced them with long essays of contextual administrative history based on the archival evidence of the very volumes and papers they were describing. Each state archives in turn produced a small number of such large, detailed scholarly guides, the quality of their content and production falling away as other pressures, such as expanding holdings and growing user numbers, built. </p><p>The National and state libraries did something else, starting in 1965, to produce in quarterly supplements single sheet descriptions of accessions of personal and organisational archives held in libraries, historical societies and organisations. Known for the next thirty years as the Guide to collections of manuscripts relating to Australia, it was in effect a specialised union catalogue. Then, as the decade of the 1970s closed, Women in Australian Society, 1901-45. A guide to the holdings of Australian Archives relating to women and women in Australia: an annotated guide to records appeared. it took external funding and a pretext impossible to ignore to help bring them into being, but nothing like them had ever been seen or conceived of before: a sign of things to come.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f W</p><p>este</p><p>rn O</p><p>ntar</p><p>io] </p><p>at 1</p><p>8:54</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>June 2012 149Volume 43 Number 2</p><p>Michael Piggott</p><p>1980s-1990s:CENTENARIES,SUBJECTSANDTHEWEBThe guide as inventory, introduced to newly appointed government archivists facing large accumulations of dead administrations, was always only one approach to explicating a body of records. manuscripts librarians, part curator and part librarian though never quite sure what they were professionally and often having to deal with unstructured, smaller, and at times even artificial accumulations of papers, favoured the guide as descriptive list. Their scholarship was manifest in outlines of biographies rather than office histories but even more evident in deep collection knowledge deployed to assist scholars. in addition, by then the advance cohorts of public users were tapping on the reading room windows. Gradually, the curator librarians, and archivists, including government archivists more generally, began to respond with some deliberation. The bicentenary celebrations in 1988, changes in curricula and the boom in family history all played their part. Archivists themselves were a factor in this too, forming a separate organisation, pursuing formal qualifications, and producing directories and other texts.</p><p>it is difficult to discern a simple pattern to archival guide production in the 80s and 90s, but there were certainly many firsts. The then Australian Archives began to shake off a defensive inward looking culture, appointing public programs staff and actually signaling to genealogists they were welcomed by producing its first published guide Relations in records. A guide to family history sources in the Australian Archives. in the 1980s too, the Australian War memorial began issuing collection guides. it started with A general guide to the library collections and archives and followed it immediately with a narrower, more intense focus with A guide to the personal family and official papers of C E W Bean. beyond Canberra, the university of melbourne Archives became the first university archives with a large formally published Guide to collections. There were others, but the trend was by now clearly evident.</p><p>Aside from specific collections and the holdings of specific archives, guides in support of family history research held their popularity and, within a large range of subject interests for guides, the history and experience of indigenous Australians began to emerge as one of several popular themes for archival guides. Otherwise, one struggles to see other than variety and intelligent opportunism in the titles produced. Take, for instance, a sample of the National Archives research guides from 1990s: Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Australians in NSW; The sinking of HMAS Sydney; Papua New Guinea records 18831942; Royalty and Australian society: Records relating to the British monarchy; More people imperative: Immigration to Australia, 190139; The Boer War: Australians and the war in South Africa, 18991902; Citizenship in Australia and Good British stock; Child and youth migration to Australia. The approaching centenary of federation, like the bicentennial before it, was also a fillip, the standout guide being the National Archives Federation. The </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f W</p><p>este</p><p>rn O</p><p>ntar</p><p>io] </p><p>at 1</p><p>8:54</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>150 Australian Academic &amp; Research Libraries</p><p>A Push Technology Personal Librarian Project</p><p>guide to records. A magnificent production which appeared in print and on line, it provided, to quote its Foreword, a comprehensive list of the collections of more than 60 archives, libraries, museums and galleries, covering the broadest possible range of Federation material. Still seen today at lifeline book fairs, it symbolises all that was good about the old model of an archival guide as union catalogue.</p><p>The most obvious change into the new century has seen guides to individual collections, record groups and agencies or equivalent published direct to the web, or as a minimum not an option, released on-line as well as in print. Some institutions such as the university of melbourne Archives now provide accession or collection guides as PdFs via their website. Others began providing online access to guides to record groups and record creating entities, thus for example the Guide to the University of Adelaide Archives. </p><p>There has also been the most impressive example of the National library of Australia...</p></li></ul>


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