A traditional viewpoint

I will begin by trying to communicate a (very) traditional view of archivists and their archives and to do this I will use the writing of one of the most influential figures in the archival field in the United Kingdom - Sir Hilary Jenkinson.  Jenkinson worked within the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) and in 1922 he published his 'Manual of Archival Administration'.  Bound up in his writing are ideas that have fed the archival profession ever since, and although these ideas have been questioned, re-examined and re-worked, they are still influential in relation to how we collectively see ourselves and what we do.  Hilary Jenkinson was, in-keeping with the time in which he was writing, bound into a positivist view of the world.  He saw archives as sets of records that are the natural and organic by-products of (mainly) administrative activities; and because of the unconscious way in which those records are created he therefore believed them to be capable of being objective and impartial carriers of 'Truth'.

Given these views on the nature of archives and records, it follows that for Jenkinson the Archivist must seek to protect, defend and preserve these unconscious, objective and impartial 'Truths' by interfering as little as possible in the natural process.  The Archivist then is a passive facilitator, a guardian of what naturally occurs and exists; and as a passive guardian the Archivist is by implication also objective, neutral, impartial and Truthful.