The Impact of David Bearman on Modern Archival Thinking: An Essay of Personal Reflection and Critique
Author: Cook, T.
Source: Archives and Museum Informatics, Volume 11, Number 1, May 1997 , pp. 15-37(23)
Abstract:This essay is a preliminary assessment of David Bearman as the leading archival thinker of the late twentieth century. Bearman has revolutionized thinking in archival circles around the world by offering a defence of traditional archival notions of provenance, evidence, recordness, and contextuality that equals the noblest statements of a Hilary Jenkinson, and by positing a relevant, dynamic, engaged future for archivists to transform the Information Age into a Record-Keeping Age. The essay is both a personal reflection and critical analysis. There are three main themes: an assessment of Bearman's ideas and their overall importance to general archival theory; a more specific exposition of the nature and importance of the University of Pittsburgh Project and of where Bearman sees that its results are leading archivists and their profession and institutions in future; and a critique of some of the implications, if not the conscious intentions, of his ideas and methods that seem to exclude the cultural, historical, and heritage dimensions and uses of archives, public or private. The overall aim of the essay is to push the archival discourse to the next stage by challenging and constructively critiquing as well as extolling the work of this archival pioneer.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Director of the Records Disposition Division at the National Archives of Canada,Ottawa, Canada
Publication date: 1997-05-01