In addition to the ICA SUV and DH2014 conferences mentioned in my last post, I am also watching the Australian Historical Association conference (#ozHA2014), taking place in Brisbane. Like the digital humanities conference, the tweets raise a number of questions about use of archives, the roles of information professionals and presentation and preservation questions.

Yvonne Perkins @perkinsy

Now listening to Niles Elvery of @QSArchives talk about researching the archives for WWI records #OzHA2014


Elvery says that while @QSArchives does not have archives of overseas WWI service there are lots of records of home life esp govt #OzHA2014

[True for all State collections, I would think]

Brilliant paper on ‘chasing Eliza Miles’ through the archives, by Louise Blake: a portrait of research & homage to @TroveAustralia#ozha2014

And more problematically:

Michael Bennett retweeted
PHAVic's avatar

The gloves are on at the Fryer Library exclusive historians ‘white gloves’ tour! #OzHA2014


In case you thought that October is going to mean a lot of concentration on twitter and post-conference blogging, you can get in a little practice this week.  The International Digital Humanities Conference is on in Lausanne (#dh2014 and #dhLausanne2014).  In addition to the presentations about text mining and digital visualisations, there have been a number of tantalising tweets suggesting that questions about the use of archives, digitisation and digital recordkeeping are all being raised.

I dream of a real nexus of archival rsrch, #dh , multimodal publication, GIS, history, and critical inquiry. #dh2014 Transformative pedagogy

@KatherineFaull mentions that @DianeJakacki (and other librarians/ technologists) aren’t “just toolkits with legs” #dh2014

lizlosh's avatar

@HATII_Glasgow Glad digital curation game at is traditional card game not another awful serious video game #dh2014

On at the same time is the International Council on Archives, Section on University and Research Archives, just down the road in Paris

The University of Melbourne eScholarship Centre is doing all the heavy lifting on the twitter feed at the moment. So far, the role of archivists, appraisal, life cycle and continuum thinking, and digital preservation of complex data have all been raised.

B Muller delved deeply into what we really mean by data and archives, hints of LaTour, UL Data Archive and OAIS @ausnarkie #icasuv14

New role for archivists – the construction of archives rather than the gathering of archives #icasuv14

So many new formats in the digital human sciences @ausnarkie #icasuv14


@esrcmelb: Context is critical. Mariella Guercio on the La Sapienza digital library @ausnarkie #icasuv14

It looks like being an exhausting, exciting and slightly frustrating couple of days on twitter, following the hints and links; trying to make cross connections between the two (and I thought choosing streams in a single conference difficult).


This is a great blog about the role of records in creating an open, transparent and accountable government.

Originally posted on Courtney Bailey, MSLS:

The weekend of July 4th celebrations seems a good time to look at the Declaration of Independence.  As an archivist, I’ve been struck by the fact that Thomas Jefferson included in his list of grievances against King George III something about the importance of public records:

“He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

Knowing this long history of the acknowledgement that public records contribute to fair government, the recent stories about bungled records management by the Internal Revenue Service are all the more appalling.  A few weeks ago, in the midst of a Congressional investigation into how the IRS had handled nonprofit organizations that are affiliated with the Tea Party, the IRS revealed that a significant chunk of the emails of Lois Lerner, Director…

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Last year’s mail

July 5, 2014

As some of you may know, I am a judge for the Australian Society of Archivists’ Mander Jones awards.  The awards recognise a range of publications, from finding aids, to scholarly articles about archives, to histories and research publications that use and discuss archives in interesting ways. Each year, a series of packages arrive on my doorstep (have I said how much I like getting parcels?) and I open each one with a mix of anticipation and dread – anticipation that the contents will expand my understanding and awareness of the rich variety of Australian archives, and dread that they will not, or that my assessment will somehow fail to identify the truly worthy.

It’s that time of year, and I have already happily taken a pair of scissors to an Australia Post Express Post bag, and to the sticky tape on the box inside (we like things to be safe and secure). Of course, I can’t tell you about the contents, and you will have to wait for Octconferober to find out the winners.  But I can, I think, share some of the nominees from last year, and my own responses to the works.

Queensland Government Digital Continuity Strategy: Future proofing the critical digital records of government business, Queensland State Archives 2012. (

A respectable addition to the library of works on the subject, and a creditable attempt to summarise the issues and identify strategies.  The definitions of digital preservation, digital continuity and digital archiving in the main text are, however, confused, and confusing, while the glossary is more clear. I’m not sure that the limited discussion in the paper helps records managers argue their case.

Michael Piggott, Archives and Societal Provenance; Australia essays (Chandos, 2012) (

An excellent summary of Michael’s work over the years. I thoroughly enjoyed the Prologue, and the essay about Robert Hawke.  Overall, though, I am not sure that the book makes a definitive case for societal provenance, as much as it does for Michael’s wit and charm.

A Falcon century: North Sydney Boys’ High School 1912 – 2012 (

A beautifully presented, well researched book, which understands its market well. Eberhard is not afraid to engage with the controversies of the day – bullying, Vietnam and the cadet movement, etc – but does so with a delicate, non-judgmental touch.  I think this will make the book more acceptable to a broad range of the school community.

With Faith and Zeal Resplendent, De la Salle College. (

Another beautiful book, which really does use pictures to tell a thousand words.  I liked the admixture of photos and photos of text and realia.  Going through the book I saw the school grow and change to meet the challenges of changing educational standards, culminating with the   beautiful photo on the river for outdoor education, and the ski tour – something the early students would have been bemused by ( and conversely, modern generations and the Debutante Ball. How did they convince all those girls to wear white?!)

Mali Buku-Runamaram: Images of Milingimbi and surrounds, 1926 – 1948. (

I found this book both revealing and moving. A sensitive and unusual approach to an issue that will become more important to archives and collecting institutions in coming years. The use of ‘language’ for the captions was inspired.

Price of Valour, John Hamilton, Pan MacMillan Australia. (,%20John)

A beautifully written work, with great use of quotes from archival and contemporary sources. The acknowledgements provide a brief view into the wealth of research that backs this book.

Saulwick Polls and Social Research – a resource for exploring the work and archives of Irving Saulwick (

Nicely designed with good links to the ADA and Uni of Melbourne Archives.  Not sure if the topics chosen reflect the actual arrangement of material or polls, or have been assigned by the developers of the project.

Sentenced beyond the Seas (

Easily located via a google search or via the main menu (if you know that you are looking for convict information). Some of the hyperlinks are a bit circular. Some of the information provided in the FAQs could have been provided as an introduction or background to the project, providing users with some context before they click on search. Accessible, clean and easy to use.

Richard Lehane, ‘Documenting sites of creation’, Archives and Manuscripts, Vol. 40 No. 3, November 2012, 171-180 (

A fascinating exploration of the idea of provenance and context, in the physical and virtual environment in which records are created. I enjoyed Lehane’s weaving of digital and analogue examples. The idea of virtual libraries was an intriguing introduction to ideas about access, which I hope Lehane follows up.

Janette Pelosi, ‘Submitted for Approval of the Colonial Secretary’: popular entertainment in the State Archives, 1828-1856’,  Chapter 7 (pp.83-100) and Appendix A, Plays Submitted to the Colonial Secretary, NSW, Australia 1841-1856 (pp.244-249) in A World of Popular Entertainments: an edited volume of critical essays, ed. by Gillian Arrighi and Victor Emeljanow. Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.

Janette’s essay revealed an interesting collection of materials within the Colonial Secretary’s Office of New South Wales. Considered logically, once the requirement for plays to be submitted for approval was made evident, it should have been no surprise to find these works. But that’s sometimes the joy of archives – that the things we find are so unexpected. I loved the fact that she was able to trace the plays that had been borrowed and not returned, so that provenance for the material was retained. An entertaining and well written essay, that explains both the history of plays and public performance in New South Wales, and opens up some of the arcana of archival practice.



Wikid archives

July 3, 2014

During the recent spate of blogs as part of #blogjune, I looked at how information about archives and archive repositories could be made more generally accessible; through standardised based description feeding into a range of schemas for broader use, and also through inclusion on wikipedia.

The Wikimedia Foundation has been actively courting the GLAM sector through initiatives like the Wikimedian in residence program, first at the British Museum ( and then at a range of institutions. A few years ago, they actively courted institutions to become involved in WW1 wiki projects, aimed at encouraging more information from and about women. The State Library of Queensland has released over 50,000 images on Wiki commons with a CC licence, and now the National Archives and Records Administration is also getting in on the act (

However, the level of engagement with GLAM bodies still appears to remain very low -  Perhaps we too can become Wikid archives?


#blogune 2014

June 30, 2014

It seems a bit of a tradition to wrap up the month with a bit of an overview, and who am I to buck tradition?

I started this month as a minor challenge to myself and to see if this blog could be resurrected. I think it can. I started with the simple premise of a blog a day, largely about issues related to archives, and by exploring both twitter, my emails and the references I find in my work, I think have covered that. I started with a comment about Orphan Black, which finished last week. That seems appropriate.

For the rest – I am still President of the History Council of WA and have attended a strategic planning meeting and a general council meeting this month, as well as a lecture on Richard III from the local Richard III Society( If you are in Perth – our AGM is on August 27, and Winthrop Professor Peter Veth will be speaking on our theme of evidence. We’d love to see you).  I have prepared and submitted a witness statement for my property court case, and I’ve bought some lovely alpaca wool and started the fox mittens.  I’ve finished marking.

I do not freckle easily, but all else is subject to change without notice.



Today, I found out that my colleague, Meg Travers, and I have had our proposed iPres2014 workshop on Archivematica and AcesstoMemory approved.  This means that I am going to have to bring myself up to speed with sips, dips and aips, and actually start doing practically some of the things that I have been teaching my conservation and preservation students about.  It also means that I am going to have to seriously think about the ways in which we describe digital data, within the context of the Australian series system.  I’ve been working hard on preparing terminologies for our AtoM instance, with an Australian English vocabulary: items, not files, folders or dossiers; series, with nary a fonds reference in sight.  Now, I need to consider whether a database is a record, a series, or the housing, or as Chris Hurley puts it,  a snark or a boojum (


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