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The decline of documentary publishing in Canadian archives, 1865-1984

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Title: The decline of documentary publishing in Canadian archives, 1865-1984
Author: Coles, Laura M.
Degree: Master of Archival Studies - MAS
Program: Archival Studies and Library Information Studies
Copyright Date: 1984
Issue Date: 2010-05-08
Publisher University of British Columbia
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Abstract: Documentary publishing by Canadian archives has declined noticeably over time. Today, few archives actively publish diaries, journals, or other primary documents. An analysis of the history of English language documentary publishing by Canadian archives and historical societies may suggest some reasons for this decline. In order to trace the development and decline of documentary publishing, archives' and historical societies' publications will be examined. A list of these will be appended to the thesis and will form the basis for the discussion of the history and nature of the activity. The older archives and historical societies saw publishing as an integral part of their activities. In Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba, publishing documents was an important method of preserving and disseminating the historical record. The Public Archives of Canada, the Champlain Society, and the Hudson's Bay Record Society were especially active in the publishing field. But in each institution, with the notable exceptions of the Champlain and Hudson's Bay Record Societies, publishing eventually became subordinate to other forms of preservation and dissemination. The newer Canadian archives did not accept publishing as a central archival activity. They focussed their attention on microfilming, records management, and other more pressing tasks. In Saskatchewan and Alberta publications have only recently appeared. New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon and Northwest Territories have yet to engage in any extensive publishing programmes. A survey of the Canadian Historical Review shows that documentary publication by the historical community has also decreased. The reasons for this decline are many and varied. Economic change and technological development have both been very important. So too have the changing perceptions of archivists and historians about the role of documentary publishing in archives and in society. Archives have turned away from publishing, but this is often not part of a stated policy. Archives need to decide if they will pursue a publishing programme or not. If they do, they must first decide why they are publishing, and for whom. Archives can publish historically edited documents for the scholarly community, or less comprehensive editions for the general public. Each option has its own problems and qualities. But whichever route archives choose, they must decide whether or not publishing is to be a part of their mandate. They must put an end to the unstructured, haphazard publishing activities of the past.
Affiliation: Arts, Faculty of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/24493
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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