Friday, August 27, 2010

When an Archive Is Nothing More Than a Pile of Boxes

Archives are wonderful. The people there are (almost) always helpful, willing to point you in the right direction, asnwering questions and searching endlessly for something you know has to be there, but can't find. So, like I said, archives are wonderful.

Except when they aren't. Except when an archive is just a fancy name for a pile of boxes with papers in them, where even the people working there have no clue what's in the archives. When the answer to every question you ask is: ask someone else. When they don't even have an archivist, just a bunch of people behind computers dealing with modern day generated paperwork who just happen to answer the phone if you call the archive.

Can you tell I'm frustrated? To go to this archive, I need to make an appointment and I need to know what to look for, as searching 128 meters of archive is simply undoable without a clue, yet they can't tell me what they have, even globally!

Sigh. I guess I'll go to the town historicus, who thankfully lives two houses down from me. After all, he's the one the people at the archive go to if they need to find something!


  1. At least you know who to go to-- that is half of the battle. And you never know what you might find in a box!

  2. I was in a place like this once. They didn't know what they had, but some of it was on shelves in notebooks. How it got into the notebooks without being surveyed to see what is was is beyond me. I am pretty sure there was something there that would have helped me, but no one there could help me tell where to look. I might go back in a few years to see if things (or people) have improved.