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Titlearchiving authors: rethinking the analysis and representation of personal archives
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external structure has tended to be understood in terms of the types of roles the creator

occupies both professionally and socially, and the various professional and social

activities in which she engages.51 Where personal records arrive disorganized, their

‘original order’ is often reconstructed along these lines, in much the same way that

Meehan advocates: the archivist uses her understanding of the records’ external structure

to help her to infer and/or imagine the relationships between records and activities and to

delineate series accordingly.

It is not difficult to find examples of writers’ fonds whose arrangements reflect an

inferred or imagined logical order. For example, writers’ fonds are often arranged into

series according to the genre of the record, with separate series designated for

correspondence, writings, notebooks, diaries, etc. Series, or sub-series, might also be

designated for genres of writing (novels, short stories, poetry, etc.),52 and in relation to

other roles the writer fulfilled or activities he engaged in; for example, for a writer who

was also a university professor and who participated actively in the Writers’ Union, there

may be specific series related to each of these roles. Of course, it is possible that the

writer maintained his records in this order as he used them, but some archivists I spoke

with explained that this type of arrangement scheme has typically been used in cases


51 Meehan, 38. See also: Jennifer Meehan, “Making the Leap from Parts to Whole: Evidence and Inference
in Archival Arrangement and Description,” American Archivist 72 (Spring/Summer 2009), 79-85.

52 When archivists arrange writers’ material by genre of writing (e.g., novels, short stories, poetry, research,
notes, journals, etc.), it is often because they understand writing in different genres to be akin to performing
different activities, i.e. writing poetry is considered to be a different type of activity than writing in a
journal or writing a short story.

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