Archives and Societal Provenance book cover

Archives and Societal Provenance

Australian Essays

Records and archival arrangements in Australia are globally relevant because Australia’s indigenous people represent the oldest living culture in the world, and because modern Australia is an ex-colonial society now heavily multicultural in outlook. Archives and Societal Provenance explores this distinctiveness using the theoretical concept of societal provenance as propounded by Canadian archival scholars led by Dr Tom Nesmith. The book’s seventeen essays blend new writing and re-workings of earlier work, comprising the fi rst text to apply a societal provenance perspective to a national setting.

After a prologue by Professor Michael Moss entitled A prologue to the afterlife, this title consists of four sections. The first considers historical themes in Australian recordkeeping. The second covers some of the institutions which make the Australian archival story distinctive, such as the Australian War Memorial and prime ministerial libraries. The third discusses the formation of archives. The fourth and final part explores debates surrounding archives in Australia. The book concludes by considering the notion of an archival afterlife.

Practitioners and students of Library and Information Science and Archive Science

Paperback, 358 Pages

Published: October 2012

Imprint: Chandos Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-84334-712-5


  • The essays are erudite and enthusiastic, and they […] reveal a deep Australian archival sensibility while discussing theories, debates, events and people from the wider (mostly Anglophone) archival world. This book should be read by anyone who wants to understand more about records and their meaning for society., Library and Information History


  • Introduction: Societal provenance. Part 1 History: Themes in Australian recordkeeping, 1788-2010; Schellenberg in Australia: Meaning and precedent; Archives: An indispensable resource for Australian historians? The file on H. Part 2 Institutions: Libraries and archives: From subordination to partnership; Making sense of prime ministerial libraries; War, sacred archiving and C.E.W. Bean. Part 3 Formation: Saving the statistics, destroying the census; Documenting Australian business: Invisible hand or centrally planned? Appraisal ‘firsts’ in twenty-first-century Australia. Part 4 Debates: Two cheers for the records continuum; Recordkeeping and recordari: Listening to Percy Grainger; Alchemist magpies? Collecting archivists and their critics; The poverty of Australia’s recordkeeping history; Acknowledging Indigenous recordkeeping.


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