Classically Inclined

March 6, 2019

New publications! From the Family Archive Project

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 8:43 pm
Tags: ,

I’m very pleased to share that the second jointly authored article to come out of the Family Archive Project has now been published! You can read We Are What We Keep: The “Family Archive”, Identity and Public/Private Heritage at over at Heritage & Society – it’s been published open access, so anyone can get to it. The abstract reads:

What do our possessions say about us? More specifically what do they say about our past, present and our future? Many families possess a “family archive”; documents, photographs, heirlooms, scrapbooks, recipes and a whole range of other items that “reveal insights” into past generations, and preserve family stories. They may never have thought of these assemblages as “archives”, but by retaining and preserving possessions these items mold a sense of family identity either consciously or unconsciously. This article explores the initial findings of a series of focus groups conducted in the UK, which considers the “family archive” as an important and undervalued site of meaning and identity construction. The article also highlights the relationship between the “official” or publicly recognized heritage and “unofficial” or everyday/private heritage, locating the “family archive” across these domains. We argue for greater recognition and promotion of this “behind the scenes” heritage and for museums and archives to explore the potential opportunities that the engagement with the “family archive” offers for wider audience engagement.

This article came out of the focus group work that we did as part of the Family Archive Project, talking to people about their own family archives and how they were formed; we pulled together some of the key themes in those discussions and explored what they mean for our understanding of the family archive.

I’ve just realised that I’ve said this is the second jointly authored article from the Family Archive Project, but I don’t seem to have mentioned the first one on here yet… The Ties That Bind: Materiality, Identity, and the Life Course in the “Things” Families Keep is also available open access, from The Journal of Family History, and appeared last year. The abstract reads:

Using an interdisciplinary research methodology across three archaeological and historical case studies, this article explores “family archives.” Four themes illustrate how objects held in family archives, curation practices, and intergenerational narratives reinforce a family’s sense of itself: people–object interactions, gender, socialization and identity formation, and the “life course.” These themes provide a framework for professional archivists to assist communities and individuals working with their own family archives. We argue that the family archive, broadly defined, encourages a more egalitarian approach to history. We suggest a multiperiod analysis draws attention to historical forms of knowledge and meaning-making practices over time.

This article came out of the comparative case study work we did around the family archive over our four time periods, to look at where the differences and similarities came together, and to see how we might use those frameworks to help us get a better sense of how family archives function over time.

We’re not quite sure where this research goes next… but it’s great for these two articles to be out there, and I know people are already finding them interesting. I hope you do too!

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