Archival Science

, Volume 13, Issue 2–3, pp 95–120

Evidence, memory, identity, and community: four shifting archival paradigms

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10502-012-9180-7

Cite this article as:
Cook, T. Arch Sci (2013) 13: 95. doi:10.1007/s10502-012-9180-7


This essay argues that archival paradigms over the past 150 years have gone through four phases: from juridical legacy to cultural memory to societal engagement to community archiving. The archivist has been transformed, accordingly, from passive curator to active appraiser to societal mediator to community facilitator. The focus of archival thinking has moved from evidence to memory to identity and community, as the broader intellectual currents have changed from pre-modern to modern to postmodern to contemporary. Community archiving and digital realities offer possibilities for healing these disruptive and sometimes conflicting discourses within our profession.


Archival theory Paradigm shifts Evidence Memory Professional identity Community archiving 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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