Personal archive and the records continuum : a case study of Tej Bunnag’s private papers, at the Siam Society library
Date of Issue2018
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This thesis aims to elucidate the relationship between the records continuum theory and personal archives. To achieve this end, it examines a body of private papers kept by an important Thai diplomat – Tej Bunnag – during the two time periods (1969–1976 and 1980–1986) when he was the Honorary Editor of the Journal of the Siam Society. The theoretical framework for such an examination is drawn from the concept of ‘evidence of me’, which Sue McKemmish developed out of the records continuum theory. This concept has the potential to recognise personal archives as a means for evidencing and memorialising a life. Within this framework, it is argued that personal records (including archives), like their counterparts of an organisational nature, have functions to perform, and that these functions are interpreted as purposes and uses. Research methods include document analysis, interviews and documentary research. Results of the analysis of Tej’s private papers, supported by data from interviews and other documentary evidence, show multiple functions of the studied archive. Four functions (as purposes) of Tej’s personal archiving can be identified, namely, (1) keeping for future reference, (2) sharing information, (3) building a legacy, and (4) constructing identities. At the level of individual records contained in the collection, these papers were used as a means through which Tej (1) performed roles of the JSS Honorary Editor, (2) maintained personal relationships, and (3) represented his multifaceted self. This study contributes to the understanding of the relationship between personal archives and the records continuum theory. Firstly, it shows that it is possible to approach a personal archive through the analysis of its functions by looking at its purposes and uses. Secondly, it challenges the binary opposition between organisational and personal archives. The results of this study suggest that the boundaries between these two types of archives are permeable. Lastly, it shows that the ‘evidence of me’, which is an extension of the continuum thinking to cover personal records (including archives) is workable, despite the propositions questioning its validity.
DRNTU::Library and information science::Archives and records management
Nanyang Technological University