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Basics for Classes Visiting the Special Collections Research Center: Pre-class Readings

What students need to know before their scheduled class session at the Special Collections Research Center.

Pre-class Readings

Complete these web readings for discussion in class.

"What Are Archives and How Do They Differ from Libraries?" Society of American Archivists, web article.

"Types of Archives," Society of American Archivists, web article.

"About" and "Policies" sections of the University of Kentucky Special Collections website.

Reading Assignment - Optional

Complete these readings and prepare written answers to the following questions for discussion in class.

Jimerson, Randall C. Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice. Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 2009, 10-20. (pdf available here)

  1. What is an archive?  How is it different from a library or museum?
  2. Define the principle of provenance.  Why do archives organize collections using this principle as opposed to other systems of organization (in light of the fact that different systems are employed by other cultural heritage institutions such as libraries, museums, or art galleries)?
  3. Discuss what you think the difference would be between making records "available" versus making them "accessible."

Foote, Kenneth E. "To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture," Jimerson, Randall C., ed. American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice. Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 2000, 29-46 (pdf version of this text on JSTOR from The American Archivist, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Summer, 1990), pp. 378-392).

  1. What is "collective memory" and how do archives help to construct it?
  2. Why is the information contained in the raw documents of archives important to society? 
  3. Why is having broad, accurate, and diverse documentation of our collective national past important?
  4. How do our individual stories contribute to understanding the past?
  5. Do you think limiting access to documentation of past events could be potentially dangerous to future generations?  Why or why not?
  6. What are the four different ways that historic sites can be "remembered or forgotten"?  Can you choose an example of a place from your hometown/state as as example for each type?
  7. Why do you think tragic events are remembered and documented in different ways?

Contact Us at the SCRC

Breckinridge Research Room's picture
Breckinridge Research Room
2nd Floor
Margaret I. King Library
Special Collections Research Center
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0039