Respect Which Fonds? Personal Archives and Family Businesses in Nova Scotia
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Ongoing efforts to redefine and deconstruct the boundaries of archival theory are increasingly emphasizing personal archives, but a key issue has mostly been neglected: the natural presence of personal archives among the archives of corporate bodies. Even with a broadening conceptual framework of provenance, there is little theoretical or practical foundation from which to proceed with basic arrangement and description activities when personal archives and the archives of corporate bodies are intermingled. The archives of nineteenth- and twentieth-century family businesses in Nova Scotia are particularly good examples of aggregations of corporate records that include “hidden” personal archives. For many families that operated businesses, there was little or no distinction between personal recordkeeping and business or professional recordkeeping. Drawing on examples of personal archives found among family business records held at the Dalhousie University Archives in Halifax, this article demonstrates that materials of this nature challenge strict distinctions between personal archives and the archives of corporate bodies. It provides a discussion of provenance and the boundary of the fonds, and suggests that archivists may be working with hybrid aggregations of materials that can be attributed to individuals and corporate bodies. The article then introduces the concept of work identity, a work-centric identity formation that can be a useful perspective from which to consider how work influences the manner in which a person or family creates, accumulates, and uses records and information.
Barrett, Creighton. "Respect Which Fonds? Personal Archives and Family Businesses in Nova Scotia." Archivaria 76 (Fall 2013): 75-92.