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The Opening lecture of the Archives & Recordkeeping in the Digital Era: Lectures and Ruminations
co-sponsored by the Society of American Archivists Student Chapter
photo of Dr. Richard Cox

Richard J. Cox

Professor, Archival Studies

University of Pittsburgh


“Searching for Archival Knowledge: The Revolution in North American Archival Publishing in the 20th Century”

Friday, November 21, 2003
4:00PM in Room 501, School of Information Sciences

Abstract: Over the past two decades of the 20th century, a rich array of monographs, festschrifts, collected thematic essays, and even memoirs related to archival knowledge and practice appeared, challenging the predominance of basic manuals, cataloguing guides, and other "how-to" volumes. At the same time, other interesting and important commentaries and discourses on archives from other disciplines such as history, cultural studies, literary studies, sociology, and anthropology began to appear. This presentation will survey and evaluate the changing patterns of archival publication and the impact on archival knowledge – including the tensions between scholars and practitioners – over the 20th century in North America. The presenter will address the general state of archival knowledge and its future prospects as a result of these publishing changes, drawing on his own work as SAA Publications Editor and as the author of many books (both manuals and monographs). This is a version of a plenary address given to the Association of Canadian Archivists in June 2003.

About the Speaker: Richard J. Cox is Professor in Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences where he is responsible for the archives concentration in the Master's in Library Science degree and the Ph.D. degree. Prior to his current position he worked at the New York State Archives and Records Administration, Alabama Department of Archives and History, the City of Baltimore, and the Maryland Historical Society. He chaired the Society of American Archivists (SAA) committee that drafted graduate archival education guidelines adopted by its Council in 1988, served for four years as a member of that association's Committee on Education and Professional Development, and was a member of the Society's governing Council from 1986 through 1989. Dr. Cox served as Editor of the American Archivist from 1991 through 1995, and he is presently editor of the Records & Information Management Report as well as serving as the Society of American Archivists Publications Editor. He has written extensively on archival and records management topics and has published eight books in this area: American Archival Analysis: The Recent Development of the Archival Profession in the United States (1990) -- winner of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award given by the Society of American Archivists; Managing Institutional Archives: Foundational Principles and Practices (1992); The First Generation of Electronic Records Archivists in the United States: A Study in Professionalization (1994); Documenting Localities (1996); Closing an Era: Historical Perspectives on Modern Archives and Records Management (2000); Managing Records as Evidence and Information (2001), winner of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award in 2002; co-editor, Archives & the Public Good: Records and Accountability in Modern Society (2002); Vandals in the Stacks? A Response to Nicholson Baker’s Assault on Libraries (2002); Flowers After the Funeral: Reflections on the Post-9/11 Digital Age (2003). He has new books coming out on re-thinking the concepts and purposes of archival appraisal and an edited compilation of essays, with a lengthy introduction and interpretation, on the work of pioneering American archivist and documentary editor Lester J. Cappon. He is currently working on additional books on the concept of information documents, the impact of electrostatic copying on the modern office, and principled records management (ethical and legal issues).


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