Publication Date

January 1995


More than a dozen years ago, the archival educator and writer Richard Cox outlined the development of American archival history and offered some suggestions for the work that still needed to be done in that field. Drawing on a range of publications, from the obscure to the well-known, he surveyed a century of writing in this country on the history of the archives profession, its people, and its institutions, as that history had appeared in monographs and in scholarly journals of state, regional, and national circulation. For all the output, however, Cox concluded that the coverage was uneven in terms of quantity and quality, a "truly lamentable" situation that left us as archivists with virtually everything yet to be known about the history and meaning of what we do. It is no less ironic t~day than it was then that a profession that likes to remind itself and its constituents that the past is prologue has done so little in the way of looking into its own prologue. It is surely not possible to remedy that lack entirely, but it is still useful to consider where we are with archival history at the moment and to speculate on where our study of this subject might go in the future.



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