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Conceiving the records continuum in Canada and the United States

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Title: Conceiving the records continuum in Canada and the United States
Author: Eamer-Goult, Jason Christopher
Degree Master of Archival Studies - MAS
Program Archival Studies
Copyright Date: 1996
Subject Keywords Records - Canada - Management - History; Records - United States --Management - History; Archives - Canada - Administration - History; Archives - United States - Administration - History
Abstract: This thesis surveys the efforts made by Canadian and American records administrators, both records managers and archivists, to ensure that records are created, received, stored, used, preserved, and disposed of in a manner which is both efficient and effective. Beginning with the French Revolution and continuing to modern times, it investigates how approaches in North American archival thinking, government records programs, and applicable records legislation were often flawed because of fundamental misconceptions of the nature of the records themselves. The thesis traces how the most widely accepted approach for administering records, which called for the division of responsibilities amongst records professionals according to the records' "life status" — active, semi-active, or inactive — was incorrect because it was not compatible with the reality that records exist as a conceptual whole and are best administered in a manner which reflects this realization. The records, which should have been managed as a coherent and complete fonds of an institution, suffered from these divisions which had eventually led to the evolution of separate records occupations: those who looked after active records, called records managers, and those who handled inactive ones, labelled archivists. What was required was an "integrated" or "unified" approach such as that articulated by the Canadian archivist Jay Atherton. Like others, he called for the management of records in a manner which reflected the singular nature of the records, an approach which did not make arbitrary divisions where none existed, but instead viewed records from a wider and more complete perspective. Support for this approach amongst some records administrators was precipitated by a number of factors, not the least of which were the demands of handling information in modern society. The thesis concludes by examining what is required for the integrated ideas to be implemented as part of a practical model in today's institutions. It suggests that for the best results to be achieved, records administrators will have to learn to work with others in related information professions, or risk losing the ability to make valid contributions in the modern information age.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/4106
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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