What’s An Archivist, Anyhow?

So my character Mill is, among other things, an archivist? What in the heck is an archivist, and why would an aspiring politician want to be one?

People are more familiar with the term archives, which brings to mind dusty records piling up in some kind of library, maybe consulted by a TV detective for evidence. Actually, many lovers of history, writing, and the ethical tightrope we call “politics” are users of or workers in archives. Archives are a treasure trove for biographical or historical researchers. They contain primary sources–that is,  narrative written by or directly quoted from the historical figure or event of interest. Eyewitness, on-the-scene descriptions. Any organization can maintain an archives, but large institutions such as universities, museums, city halls,  and presidential libraries are typical places to find them.

Can you imagine the millions of pieces information collected in one museum’s archives alone? Newspaper articles, letters, ledger entries, meeting agendas, official memos–maybe even top-secret! No wonder a trained staff of archivists is needed to read, organize, catalog, and protect them.  Not to mention assisting researchers to find what they’re looking for. In the past, original copies were stored in special archival containers to protect them from the ravages of light, water, and time.  In our time, many collections have been converted into digital copies for safekeeping.

Safekeeping the past, so that we aren’t doomed to repeat its mistakes. Learning of fascinating events  from those who were there. These are some of the reasons Mill became an archivist. To find out the other reasons, you’ll have to read my book. Coming soon.

 

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