, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 235-244,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Dec 2011

“Peace, order and good government”: archives in society


The phrase “peace, order and good government,” common to the definition of federal powers in both the Australian and the Canadian constitutions, has defined the relationship of the Crown and the citizen for more than five centuries. The archival record is fundamental to that relationship, providing its authoritative legal basis, documenting its evolution and continuing as a reminder of both our proudest achievements and our most dismal failures as a society. This paper reflects on the role of archives in recent Canadian human rights issues, highlighting both the strengths and the weaknesses of the record, the perception of archives as an agency of the state and the role of archives in helping society address highly contentious issues.