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Chatting up the Archivist: Social Capital and the Archival Researcher

Catherine A. Johnson and Wendy M. Duff
The American Archivist
Vol. 68, No. 1 (Spring - Summer, 2005), pp. 113-129
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40294259
Page Count: 17
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Chatting up the Archivist: Social Capital and the Archival Researcher
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Abstract

Historians are expert researchers who use a variety of methods to locate primary research material in archives, including consulting the archivist. This article suggests that historical researchers deliberately establish relationships with archivists to tap into their in-depth knowledge about archival resources. The relationship with the archivist is the social capital of historical researchers because through it they are able to gain access to this specialized knowledge. This article examines the strategies undertaken by historical researchers to establish these relationships and their evaluation of the relationships in terms of finding resources. It also examines the difference in access to the archivist between established historical researchers and PhD students and speculates on how the availability of archival resources and finding aids on the World Wide Web might affect the relationships between researchers and archivists.

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