The concept of creatorship is central to archival theory, as evidenced in archival description, which focuses on the relation of the material described to a single, named creator. Despite its centrality to the discipline and profession, the concept of archival creation is under-theorized and oversimplified. This article builds on recent discussion in the archival discipline regarding the need to expand the principle of provenance by exploring methods of archival creation in the archives of Canadian and American writers. It argues for a broader understanding of the types of agents and processes that create an archive over time and suggests that despite being centered on the concept of creation, the archival discipline has only begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities contained in it.
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This paper is a revised version of a chapter of my doctoral dissertation (Douglas 2012). I wish to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and York University (through the Kent Haworth Archival Research Fellowship) for their financial support. I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the expertise and graciousness of the 13 archivists and librarians who consented to share their expertise with me: Kathy Garay (McMaster University), Catherine Hobbs (Library and Archives Canada), Heather Home (Queen’s University Archives), Richard Landon (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto), Michael Moosberger (University Archives, Dalhousie University), Monique Ostiguy (Library and Archives Canada), Tony Power (Special Collections and Rare Books, Simon Fraser University), John Shoesmith (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto), Carl Spadoni (William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University), Appollonia Steele (Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary), Shelley Sweeney (Archives and Special Collections, University of Manitoba), Jean Tener (Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary) and Jennifer Toews (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto). Finally, I am grateful to the peer reviewers whose comments helped me to strengthen my arguments and write a better paper.
Appendix: List of archives consulted
Appendix: List of archives consulted
Margaret Atwood fonds. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. University of Toronto Libraries. Toronto, Ontario.
Douglas Coupland fonds. Rare Books and Special Collections. University of British Columbia Libraries. Vancouver, British Columbia.
Marian Engel fonds. The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections. McMaster University Libraries. Hamilton, Ontario.
Margaret Laurence fonds. Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. York University Libraries. Toronto, Ontario.
Dorothy Livesay fonds. Archives and Special Collections. University of Manitoba Libraries. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
L.M. Montgomery collection. Archival and Special Collections. University of Guelph Libraries. Guelph, Ontario.
Alice Munro fonds. Archives and Special Collections. University of Calgary Libraries. Calgary, Alberta.
Sylvia Plath collection. Mortimer Rare Book Room. Smith College Libraries. Northampton, Massachusetts.
Sylvia Plath collection MSS II. Lilly Library. Indiana University Libraries. Bloomington, Indiana.
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Douglas, J. A call to rethink archival creation: exploring types of creation in personal archives. Arch Sci 18, 29–49 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-018-9285-8