Archives and Manuscripts, Blog Post 1 Regarding Digital Archives

In the archive, what constitutes greater accessibility and what will this seeming abundance of archival sources mean for historians? Ian Milligan’s recent article regarding the changing and increasingly digital nature of the archives is perceptive to note that a change in training for historians and archivists is in order. Milligan also openly wonders at what increased “abundance” will mean for historical research, positing that narrowing down exact search terms may prove difficult. This is definitely a personal matter for my own research as I have to wonder what the feasibility of searching Yiddish documents in a digitized context will be. There is already groundwork for how to do so to a degree; guides that explain the different romanizations of Yiddish in the archive that can help with search terms. It will likely be similar in that regard; to search for content regarding Sholom Schwarzbard a historian will likely have to go through the same variations as before.

 The notion of abundance is intriguing and even exciting but I have to wonder what the labour going into these processes of digitization will require and what it will mean for archive workers in the near future. With automation, labor concerns must be kept in mind. While the profession changing shouldn’t automatically be feared, I am wary for what it might mean in terms of “cost-cutting” for those in charge.

The safety of archival materials in digital formats is also in question. Physical materials aren’t infallible and with current climate change patterns this digitization could seem like a godsend, but I am still skeptical. The mention of geocities in the article really brought this to mind. While the internet is forever to some degree, things can still be lost and digitization is not a guarantee of future access.

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