New article: Critical Digital Archives: A Review from Archival Studies

New out in The American Historical Review (September 2021) is an article by Itza A. Carbajal and Michelle Caswell that explores how archivists and historians might come together in the digital realm. The authors argue that a more developed understanding of digital archival theory and practice can provide the basis for “doing digital history better“.


Given the blurring of boundaries between historians and archivists in the digital realm, this article urges historians to pay more attention to discussions surrounding digital records and archival practices emerging from critical archival studies. More specifically, this article identifies and summarizes seven key themes and corresponding debates about digital records in contemporary archival studies scholarship: (1) materiality, (2) appraisal, (3) context, (4) use, (5) scale, (6) relationships, and (7) sustainability. A deeper knowledge of digital archival theory and practice—how records came to be in digital archives, the infrastructures that maintain them, and the tools necessary to provide access to and context for them—is not ancillary to historical work, but provides important context to do digital history better.

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