There’s a scene in a documentary about the French philosopher Jacques Derrida where Derrida visits UC Irvine (where he had donated his personal papers). The philosopher, going through the rows of newly-processed collections, comments that the gray archival boxes on the shelves look like little gravestones.
For someone whose best-known axiom was that “there is nothing outside the text,” and who was very concerned about who has “authority” over the archive, perhaps it was somewhat distressing for Derrida to see his texts buried away in folders, boxes, shelves and behind locked doors.
It’s easy to understand this concern. In some ways, archival records are by their nature “dead” — they have been given to the archives because they’re no longer used in the course of daily business. And it’s true that most institutions keep these materials tucked away in closed stacks.
On the other hand, from my point of view as someone who processes new accessions as they come to Mudd, collections are constantly growing, re-interpreted by new context and new evidence, and given new life through the research and reference process. We care for collections so that they may find new life — all of our core activities, as an institution, are to serve researcher needs in their synthesis and analysis of the past.
In May and June of this year, most of our accessions were additions to collections we already hold — in some cases, this was an instance of a donor finding or having created additional material that rounds out our collections. In most cases, new additions to an archival collections are an opportunity to re-examine the existing collection from a new point of view.
We hope that this will be the case with our newest additions. Here is a list of what we received in May and June:
[ML.2011.015] Photocopy of Douglas Linder Article
[ML.2011.016] Photographs and correspondence to William H. Kellenberger from John Foster Dulles
[ML.2011.017] Women’s World Banking Records
[ML.2011.019] Chalmers Benedict Wood Papers
[ML.2011.021] George S. McGovern Photographs and Letters
[ML.2011.022] Marten van Heuven Writings and Correspondence
[ML.2011.023] Woodrow Wilson Letter
[ML.2011.025] Kennett Love Papers