Archives Month in the MARAC region

2010

"Making Connections: Archives and Imagination"

American Archives Month is intended to raise public awareness about the importance of historic documents and records. To celebrate Archives Month in the MARAC region, the Steering Committee designated the month of October for activities to raise awareness and to publicize the importance of archives. Although member states and institutions may promote their own themes, MARAC encourages all members and member institutions in 2010 to consider the role of archives in relation to the imagination.

 

The preservation of records is a pre-requisite for history, but to enter the past in the most meaningful and engaging way, one must employ imagination. While memory may seem more closely associated with the encounter with history, imagination is just as essential to understanding the past in all its particularity. Since the search for historical data of any kind engages the mind, it is helpful to see the work of apprehending history through archives as a process of imagination that involves us in the interconnectedness of all knowledge. Archivists are trained to make connections – by knowing their collections, by answering research inquiries, by identifying information that may be unknown to the researcher and bringing it into awareness. The creative encounter with the past involves knowing where archives and records are located, knowing how to search for information, and knowing how to interpret information from other times and other cultures. There are excitement and rewards both in the search and in the discovery!

 

Imagination is a stimulus to thinking and to the process of discovery.  Archivists assist researchers find what is meaningful by leading the way in the creative encounter with the past. Thoroughly familiar with their collections, archivists often make imaginative connections between questions asked, historical evidence and information, and the possibility of answers. The search for history is an imaginative quest, and the person that researches the data and records available in archives usually, in doing so, embarks on a process of self-discovery as well. This was evident as long ago as the time of Herodotus, who defined history as “finding out for oneself.” Finding out for oneself is the hallmark of imaginative discovery in the service of knowledge, and archives are the places where this happens!

To celebrate Archives Month in the MARAC region, the Steering Committee designated the month of October for activities. To submit events for inclusion on this page, please contact David Rose, Chair of the MARAC Outreach Committee at [email protected].