Last week I’m had an opportunity to visit with Dave Joens & his staff at the Illinois State Archivesâthe first AOTUS to visit since Wayne Grover was there in 1952.Â Dave & I will will were able to reenact the original photo op at the same catalogue drawer!
Margaret Cross Norton was the first State Archivist of Illinois from 1922 until 1957.Â 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.Â Her âCatalog Rules: Series for Archives Materialâ trained generations of archivists.
She fought the good fight distinguishing archives from libraries and historical societies:
âOne might concludeâ¦that the ideal archivist is a scholar sitting in a remote ivory tower safeguarding records of interest only to the historian.Â In reality the archivist is at the very heart of his government & the archival establishment is a vital cog in its governmental machinery.Â Archives are legal records the loss of which might cause serious loss to citizens or the government.â
In the mid-1950s, Grover was working on âThe Archivistâs Credoâ (later Code) and sent drafts out for review.Â 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:
âProbably 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.Â Disorder must worry him.Â I donât think enough emphasis has been placed upon this in the training of archivists.â