The Private in the Public Archive

Peter Lang Publishing
Publication Type:
Revealing Privacy: Debating the Understandings of Privacy, 2012, pp. 19 - 29
Issue Date:
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Distinctions between public and private — however problematic and contested — turn on notions of borders or boundaries and this essay examines approaches to collections of private and, in some cases, highly personal papers that have found their way into public repositories. These private/public papers possess different qualities and pose different challenges from those associated with preserving and researching administrative or government records. I ask what makes an archived document ‘private’? What protocols govern scholarly access to these particular elements of the archival record? Finally, and more significantly, what are the effects of this categorization? I conclude by considering how the productivity of the ‘private’ may be bound up with questions of value.
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