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Paying Homage to Margaret Cross Norton

Last week I’m had an opportunity to visit with Dave Joens & his staff at the Illinois State Archives—the first AOTUS to visit since Wayne Grover was there in 1952.  Dave & I will will were able to reenact the original photo op at the same catalogue drawer!

Archives-Norton 1953

 

Dave Joens and AOTUS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Cross Norton was the first State Archivist of Illinois from 1922 until 1957.  She was a co-founder of the Society of American Archivists, served in SAA leadership roles for many years, & edited American Archivist from 1946 to 1949.  Her “Catalog Rules: Series for Archives Material” trained generations of archivists.

She fought the good fight distinguishing archives from libraries and historical societies:

“One might conclude…that the ideal archivist is a scholar sitting in a remote ivory tower safeguarding records of interest only to the historian.  In reality the archivist is at the very heart of his government & the archival establishment is a vital cog in its governmental machinery.  Archives are legal records the loss of which might cause serious loss to citizens or the government.”

In the mid-1950s, Grover was working on “The Archivist’s Credo” (later Code) and sent drafts out for review.  Our records are rich with the correspondence between Norton & Grover. She challenges language and basic principles, addresses the non-partisan nature of government archives, & makes it clear that archivists are hired to process & serve archives and not to research their own scholarship!

An added general comment to the draft:

“Probably this also does not belong in the code, but I am would say that the most important single need for the archivist is for a strong sense of order.  Disorder must worry him.  I don’t think enough emphasis has been placed upon this in the training of archivists.”

Source: aotus.blogs.archives.gov

Updated: May 19, 2015 — 5:33 pm

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