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Access to online archival materials has become vital for many academic historians and other researchers. The COVID-19 global pandemic has aimed the spotlight on the digital archival collections hosted by archives institutions and available through the web. In light of this increased role of digital archival collections, it is imperative for archivists to gain a better understanding of academic historians’ perceptions of these materials. The study reported in this article builds on previous work in the archives, history, and library and information studies disciplines to assess current perceptions that academic historians have toward digital archival collections. The article concludes that these virtual materials have created a paradoxical situation, whereby the ease of access potentially shapes historical understanding and interpretation in ways that are difficult (if not impossible) to anticipate and not always desirable. Archivists must pay careful attention to the presentation of what content is placed online and how users interact with it is important for the design of digital archival collections.



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