Friday, June 22, 2012

Things to remember about Archives

First, things get reclassified. Stuff that was freely available fifteen years ago and even published verbatim twelve years ago can again be marked as secret and top secret and locked away for decades. This apparently can happen to whole fonds, not to mention opisi. The archives available today may be a very sanitized version of the official history as one comes across numerous pages simply marked "Secret" or finds lots of little s marks on one's requests for documents.

Two, things get moved. Archives that were at one time in a central location may be moved to outlaying provincial or regional archives. Unlike in the case above they are theoretically still accessible if one can get another letter of introduction from a local university director and can travel several hundred miles to the new location.

Three, some stuff just gets lost. That is they can not find the file and there is no record of it being ever classified as secret or top secret or moved to another archive. 

Four, a lot of stuff before the 1940s is not typed. Instead it is written out by hand and is extremely difficult to read. Even though typewriters existed in the 1920s they evidently were not in widespread use in many parts of the world. 

1 comment:

PaperSmyth said...

Also, there's always that one person/organization/official with clout willing to point out "That particular item is owned by _______," the blank representing another organization that it was (mis)appropriated from.

Not a good thing that stuff is being reclassified, though.

I hope your research goes well.