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Understanding the archives


Admission requirements



A number of books and articles provide the student with an overview of the various lines of approach in archival science. The concept of archive is in the forefront of this discussion. Students get insight in the various functions of archives in society. In the discussion the emphasis is on the use of archives as a historical source. Important questions are: why is it important to understand the context of archives creation to be able to use archives as historical sources? Do the sources actually say what they say? Which approach to archives does the historian choose and which approach is taken by the archivist?
This seminar provides the student with a good overview of the archival domain. The seminar discusses the various functions of an archive in society. The literature seminar provides an overview of the diverse issues with which archival science wrestles and gives insight into the relationship between archives creation on the one hand and using the archives as a historical source in history science on the other hand.

Course objectives

  • To provide a good understanding of the multiple functions of archives

  • To get a good knowledge of the archival debates

  • To develop a critical attitude toward the use of archives and the use of the available research tools


See here.

Mode of instruction

Literature seminar.

Course Load

  • Total course load for the course is 280 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 28 hours.

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 182 hours.

  • Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 70 hours.

Assessment method

  • Presentation & participation (20%)

  • Mid-term exam (40%)

  • Essay (40%)



Reading list

As handbooks are used:

  • Terry Eastwood and Heather MacNeil (eds) Currents of Archival Thinking (Santa Barbara-Denver-Oxford 2010).

  • Jennie Hill (ed) The future of archives and recordkeeping. A reader (London 2011).

Every week additional articles will be read and discussed.


via uSis.

Contact information

With the tutor: Prof. Dr. K.J.P.F.M. Jeurgens