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Archival quotes (Fairly long, be warned)
Thanks again to all who responded to my request for quotes about archives.
A number of people have requested that I post the results to the list. Here
My favourite (that's favorite to our American friends) is from Beth S.
Harris [firstname.lastname@example.org] who sent:
How about "The great use of a life is to spend it for something that
outlasts it." WIlliam James, 1842-1910. (Someone on the list sent that to
Special thanks to Joy Kingsolver [email@example.com] who sent:
"The archive: if we want to know what this will have meant, we will only
--Jacques Derrida, "Mal d'Archive: Une Impression Freudienne."
Special thanks to Bonita Smith [Bonita.Smith@grc.nasa.gov], who sent:
I've kept my eyes open for the same thing for an archives quote. I'm using
the good old webster's Dictionary
description for archive:
A place in which public records or historical documents are stored.
That's the screen saver on my computer.
Special thanks to Jean E. Dryden [firstname.lastname@example.org] who sent:
Quotations about Archives and Archivists
It depends on those who pass
Whether I am a tomb or treasure
Whether I speak or am silent
The choice is yours alone.
Friend, do not enter without desire.
Verse by Paul Valery on the wall of a library & archives in Paris.
"An archive is a dump without the seagulls." Shoe, 1990
People say I'm a packrat ...
They may be right ...
But I prefer the term archivist
"Of all our national assets, Archives are the most precious; they are the
gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks
the extent of our civilization."
Arthur G. Doughty, Dominion Archivist, 1904-1935
"All Universities worthy of the name posses three functions: The storage of
knowledge already acquired, the dissemination of knowledge in man's
possession, and the search for new knowledge."
A. R. Kerr, President of the University of Alberta, 1938.
"The Archivist's career . . . is one of service. He exists in order to make
other people's work possible, unknown people for the most part and working
very possibly on lines equally unknown to him, some of them in the quite
distant future and upon lines as yet unpredictable. His Creed, the Sanctity
of Evidence; his Task, the conservation of every scrap of Evidence attaching
to the Documents committed to his charge; his Aim to provide, without
prejudice or thought, for all who wish to know the Means of Knowledge."
Sir Hilary Jenkinson in his published address "The English Archivist: A New
Profession" p. 38.
"My life is spent among the tablets. I am their protector, and of our people
few even know of their existence. Long ago our rulers came there to study,
but it has been generations since one of them has come. Once we who were
Keepers of the Word were called in council, but it is so no longer. The Hand
may not even remember that we exist."
Tazzock, one of the characters in Louis L'Amour's novel Haunted Mesa, p.
156. The Hand is the dictator in Tazzock's civilization. On page 157 Tazzock
utters a lament that might be a common feeling among modern
archivists--"What can I do? I am but a Keeper of Archives."
"Many an ancient archive has been lost in fires, destroyed in sieges, or
simply allowed to decay through lack of interest or awareness."
Louis L'Amour in Jubal Sackett p. 57.
"The preservers of history are as heroic as its makers."
Pat M. Neff, avid historian, Texas Governor and president of Baylor
University. These words are inscribed on one side of Pat Neff Hall at
Baylor. The words were included in speeches as governor urging the
inauguration of the Texas centennial in 1936. According to the Baylor
University publication Lariat of February 1, 1940, p. 5, the statement "is a
tribute to those who, renouncing personal glory, devote their lives to the
recording and preservation of the achievements of others, in order that
these achievements may enrich civilization in succeeding ages."
State-of-the-art automation will never beat the wastebasket when it comes to
speeding up efficiency in the office.
Ann Landers Gem of the Day, July 27, 1994
"The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it."
-William James 1842-1910
American philosopher and psychologist, and brother to novelist Henry James.
"There is nothing more useful for instructing and teaching men, nothing
more necessary for clearing up and illustrating obscure matters, nothing
more necessary for conserving patrimonies and thrones, all things public
and private, than a well constituted store of volumes and documents and
records--as much better than navy yards, as much more efficacious than
munitions factories, as it is finer to win by reason rather than by
violence, by right than by wrong."
-- Baldassare Bonifacio, "Des Archivis," 1632
"Citizens! Protect monuments, buildings, objects and documents from former
times. All of these are your history and your pride. Remember that this
is the basis upon which our new art shall flourish!"
-- Vladimir Lenin, November 1917
"Glory is acquired by virtue but preserved by letters." Petrarch
"Merciless order ought to prevail in archives.
They are quite simply the crystallization of a
wish to put the past in order."
Peter Hoeg, 1992 Smilla's Sense of Snow
"People must know the past to understand the present and face the future."
Special thanks to E. Taylor [email@example.com] who referred me to the
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library webpage http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/
Welcome to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Museum, and Digital Archives,
an on-line resource devoted to fulfilling Franklin Roosevelt's dream of
making the records of the past available "for the use of men and women in
Special thanks to Tom Berry [firstname.lastname@example.org] and Kellams, Dina M
[email@example.com] who pointed out that:
There was a thread along these lines a month or two ago on the List. Here's
the site for accessing the List archives:
Special thanks to Russell Baker [firstname.lastname@example.org] who sent
(with a smile):
How about this one from a bumper sticker of yesteryears:"Archivists make it
That same quote came from Scott, Paul (FPM) [email@example.com]
Special thanks to Alex Rankin [firstname.lastname@example.org] who sent:
"Archivists are like Mechanics, no one wants to give them money or the time
of day until something breaks when they become God's amongst men." -A.
Special thanks to MartM9241@aol.com who sent:
"Being an archivist is fun ... if you like to read other people's mail."
Special thanks to Patrick Van den Nieuwenhof [pvdnieuw@VUB.AC.BE] who
referred me to the website
http://www.archimac.marun.edu.tr/Profession/Slogans.spml which contains the
Slogans are a good way to convey ideas in a condensed form. Here are the
ones on archives and records management I have collected from various
sources, mostly from mailing lists.
* Information is power.
* Time is money.
* Records should earn their keep.
* The future is in the making, not the waiting.
* Archivists make it last longer.
* Let a Records Manager in your drawers.
* Control your records before they control you.
* For the Record...
* Information becomes far more a commercial commodity, ephemeral,
instant, disposable, yet powerful, indispensable, and sought after. It'll be
an interesting ride, but can we cope? (Bruce Montgomery, Univ. of Colorado)
* The preservers of history are as heroic as its makers. (Pat Neff,
Governor of Texas and President of Baylor University)
* Archives are forever.
* History alive.
* Preserving history.
* Making heroes.
* What's past is prologue.
* Top 10 Reasons to not get Organized (received from Donna P. Wilson)
Hunting for important documents adds excitement to a
Stacking papers on your desk protects it from
Being as confused as everyone else helps you fit in.
Moving piles of paper keeps you in shape.
If you understood what you were doing, you would be
Confusion brings out the best in you.
Organization kills creativity.
Shuffling papers prevents dust from piling up.
Your competitors spies will never find what they're
Clutter magnifies your importance.
* Behind every successful manager is a Records Manager.
* Records are food for thought, not for mice. (A student of the
* Appraisal is the acid test of where a person stands in the archival
world. (Marc Wolfe)
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