A Canadian traveller's tale: Lillian B. Allen and documenting travel, 1927-1979
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Although archives hold vast amounts of travel records, these records have been virtually ignored in the archival literature. Thus research is needed on contextualizing them for the various functions archivists perform with such contextual knowledge. Other academic fields have produced much work on the history of travel, but little as yet on the records of travel. Within archival literature, journal articles have been published on documents created as a consequence of travel, but they have seldom been studied within the context of the history of travel. This thesis demonstrates the importance of historical context in the examination of travel records through a case study analysis of the travel records created between 1927 and 1979 by Lillian Beatrice Allen, a University of Manitoba professor, a photographer, and a frequent traveller. This thesis argues that the full value of travel records cannot be obtained if they are studied outside the context of the history of travel and of the particular travellers who created them. Allen’s travel records will be contextualized within the tradition of travellers’ records, and more specifically those of women travellers. By evaluating not just what she says in her travel records, but also how she records them, what types of travel records she keeps, what that says about her, and what that says about travel records and women travellers in general, I hope to demonstrate the value of applying the archival perspective to the history of travel and travel records. Archivists, as those responsible for the care and contextualization of such research tools, are well-placed to play a key role in illuminating the history of travel records and thus provide better archival representations of them and thereby better service to researchers. Also, although archivists have traditionally aimed to be neutral gatekeepers of information, this study of Allen’s travel records demonstrates the effect archivists can have (indeed must have) on the types and amounts of records kept to ensure that valuable sources of information are not lost to future generations.