COMMA 2005.1 - Wien 2004 - Preface
This volume of Comma is the first of three issues dedicated to the proceedings of the 15th International
Congress on Archives held in Vienna in August 2004. The Congress broke new ground in the number
of parallel sessions available to delegates, thus much of the material presented here will be new even
to those who attended the conference. The papers come from a wide range of sources. Working groups
and Sections of the International Council on Archives (ICA) provide the latest information on matters
of technical interest and practising archivists reflect on aspects of archives management. In addition,
also included are more theoretical contributions that investigate the role of archives around the world,
and the relationships which exist - or should exist - between archives practitioners and society at large.
The conference theme, â€œArchives, Memory and Knowledge,â€ allowed for a wide-ranging
interpretation. The articles in this first volume have been arranged in three very broad groupsmemory, preservation and appraisal - which represent aspects (and often overlapping aspects) of that
Memory. The majority of the articles examine the relationships between memory - whether
individual, or collective - and archives and archivists (as â€œcustodians of memoryâ€). The authors
examine both philosophical notions of memory and also the practical ways in which archives (and oral
history) can help reconcile or reconnect individuals with their past. The transfer of specific
professional knowledge is also considered here: the ways in which archival knowledge is transmitted
between generations, and between practitioners.
Preservation. Contributions from the Committee on Archival Building in Temperate Climates
(ICA/CBTE) remind us that the intellectual interpretation of archives is impossible without their
Appraisal. The final articles examine one of the fundamental archival processes â€“ appraisal - which
must simultaneously take into account the physicality (or the structure) of records and their intellectual
content. Appraisal has a direct impact on the shape of the archives and consequently on future usersâ€™
understanding of the past; and on the relationship between usersâ€™ own memories of events and how
those events are represented in the archives (concepts examined in the earlier articles in this volume).
Readers will be reminded that appraisal is not just a technical process, but one that can affect lives.