The archival web: contextual authority files and the representation of institutional textual documents in online description

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McLuhan-Myers, Madeleine
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This thesis considers the problem of the representation of individual institutional textual records in archival research tools. While document studies in academic journals point to the value of focussed consideration of various types of records, archives do not have the resources to apply such focus to every item in their holdings, even though these convey the information sought by many researchers. Over the last century, archivists have emphasized description of groups of records, because this provides insight into the context in which documents exist and immense quantities involved left little choice. Recent developments, however, suggest the individual document should be re-visited. This thesis focuses on how formal descriptive systems might be enhanced to allow closer consideration of individual institutional textual records. It reviews the history of description, explores benefits to researchers seeking information from particular documents (e.g. the will) and explores tools created in response, such as contextual authority files.
archives, finding aids, wills, authority files, archival description, textual records