Although records have traditionally been defined by their physical form, our research reveals that records documenting marginalized communities disrupt these limiting definitions by surfacing the ways that community members conceive of the agency of records. Based on focus groups we conducted with fifty-four community members at five different Southern California–based community archives, this paper examines how community archives users conceive of records as agents, embodied with the voices of past lives, and capable of facilitating meaning for those who access, activate, and interpret them. In our findings, users of community archives not only surfaced the notion of records as dynamic, sentient, and generative agents, but also of records as haunted, emphasizing that dominant historical narratives are haunted by their absences.
Tai, Jessica; Zavala, Jimmy; Gabiola, Joyce; Brilmyer, Gracen; and Caswell, Michelle
"Summoning the Ghosts: Records as Agents in Community Archives,"
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies: Vol. 6, Article 18.
Available at: https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol6/iss1/18