Archival Theory

Ridener’s discussion of the relationship between research paradigms and archival work reminded me that we, the Williamsburg Documentary Project class, are doing cultural work and are looking to the present to construct the reality of the recent past in order to inform future generations.  Of course, complete objectivity can never be attained in any historical work, but I think it will be helpful to think of our research as, in part, dictated by the paradigms, technologies, and cultural values of the present.  Indeed, our own preconceived notions of history, inevitably expressed through our documentary work, may one day be the focus of academic study for future generations in order to understand how archival paradigms have shifted over time.  Ridener’s piece also caused me to pause and consider why I chose my specific topic to document and record.  How has my personal experience shaped the topics that I consider to be the most relevant to understanding our society in 2011?


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

Add Users

If you want to add yourself to this blog, please log in.