Comma

Evolution or revolution? The changing role of city archives in Australia

Comma (2014), 2014, (1-2), 121–134.

Abstract

The City of Adelaide, established in 1840, is Australia’s oldest municipality. The City of Canberra is perhaps its youngest. The official archival institutions of both cities were established to serve notions of civic pride and a desire to support research into the history and development of newly identified communities. Over the intervening years each has evolved into an entity equally interested in modern recordkeeping, becoming an advisor on current information needs as well as a custodian of each local community’s archival heritage. In this paper, case studies of the history and development of these two institutions form a framework in which to trace the fortunes of municipal archives and archivists in Australia. The paper provides a broad overview of the activities and areas of focus of city and other local government archives in Australia, primarily during the period of the existence of the Australian Society of Archivists’ Local Government Archives Special Interest Group. These changes are viewed in the context of two key environmental factors of the time. The first is the increasing influence of new public management theory and its impact on local government reform agendas. The second is the acceptance by many Australian professionals of the records continuum model as a means of explaining the need for a closer relationship between records and archives management.

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Author details

Wickman, Danielle