Whether defined as original order or the history of ownership, provenance is one of the guiding lights of the archival profession, the key that guarantees the validity of documents in the archives. Archival material is rarely questioned, and authorship is seldom a topic of intense discussion. One assumes that the signer of the letter penned it except when secretaries were known to have been employed. Perhaps as a profession, however, archivists are too trusting and rely too often on provenance as a guiding light.



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