, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 117-140
Date: 18 May 2010

Room for archives? Use of archival materials in No Gun Ri research

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Abstract

Archivists have long tried to understand users from the viewpoint of their archival collections. Such an approach misses important perspectives about use in, and users of, archives; how they perform research and develop knowledge while using archives. This study aims to comprehend the use of archival materials in research from the users’ perspective. It attempts to understand users’ perceptions of the impact of archival collections on their research, how and when archival materials are involved in the research process and how much weight they grant those materials in support of their thesis, from an actual research topic, the No Gun Ri massacre. The case of the No Gun Ri incident provides a good example of how archival materials play a role in historical discussions and an opportunity to look at archival contributions. No Gun Ri researchers acknowledged that archival documents were essential source materials for details about the incident and a major player in stimulating controversies and, consequently, provided the impetus for further publications. General recordkeeping situations also provided a circumstantial context of the incident. However, No Gun Ri researchers agreed that oral history was the most valuable and influential evidence for their major ideas and used archival documents to provide hard facts about the details of oral history. There are some unique research patterns of No Gun Ri researchers identified in this study which are different from the typical assumptions of archivists.