Archival Science

, Volume 6, Issue 3–4, pp 351–360

The concept of societal provenance and records of nineteenth-century Aboriginal–European relations in Western Canada: implications for archival theory and practice

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10502-007-9043-9

Cite this article as:
Nesmith, T. Arch Sci (2006) 6: 351. doi:10.1007/s10502-007-9043-9


Increasing interest amongst archivists in the history of records and archives leads to questions about how this historical knowledge may affect archival theory and practice. This article discusses its effect on the concept of provenance by suggesting that it indicates that records have what might be called a societal provenance. The article discusses some of the principal features of societal provenance and some implications for archival theory and practice of this concept. The article provides examples of the place of societal provenance in understanding Aboriginal-Euro-Canadian records by using the 1802–1803 birchbark journal of fur trader Jean Steinbruck, which has a provenance in fur trade society in northwestern Canada, and photographs from the late nineteeth century, which reflect a provenance in the new agrarian and urban society that ended fur trade society in the Canadian West.


Archival theory Provenance Aboriginal archives Jean Steinbruck North West Company Yellowknife journal Writing on birchbark 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Master’s Program in Archival Studies HistoryUniversity of Manitoba, St.Paul’s CollegeWinnipegCanada

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