Consolidation and separation: British archives and American historians at the turn of the twentieth century
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- Procter, M. Arch Sci (2006) 6: 361. doi:10.1007/s10502-007-9041-y
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Although American historians used British archives throughout the nineteenth century, the most fruitful period of contact was in the decades covering the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Scholarly collaboration and initiatives for ‘advanced historical training’ were accompanied by American funding which provided for both intellectual and physical access to British archives. From the 1920s, the formalisation of many of these relationships and projects contributed towards the development of the separate professional structures which exist today for archivists and historians on both sides of the Atlantic. This process has obscured the role of the many individuals whose activities spanned, without arousing comment, both groups pre-1930. One such British ‘historical worker’ was Hubert Hall. While Hall’s long career provides many examples of trans-Atlantic collaboration, it also coincided almost exactly with the establishment of firm professional boundaries, a development which inevitably led to the demise of the generalist ‘historical worker’ as a recognisable type.