Narrating the archive? Family collections, the archive, and the historian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article seeks to open a discursive space in which to reflect on issues of Holocaust historiography arising from emerging research on personal archives collected by ‘ordinary’ people in relation to the Holocaust. The explorations, intended as a discussion piece, are anchored in a specific context, namely that of the Dorrith Sim Collection (DMSC) which is held in the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC) in Glasgow. This collection offers a focus to concretize the historiographical discussion in a largely un-researched collection, while enabling consideration of a range of related collections and publications. The article investigates the historiographical practices of those involved in the collection, preservation, presentation, and publication processes, and considers the inherent ethical choices: choices that highlight the agency of the family, the archivist and the scholar. Ethical choices, here, the investment of specific meanings and claims to significance, are amplified in this context because of their connection to genocide. I suggest that a ‘transparent historiography’ which accounts for the research process within the published narrative could address the challenges arising from the necessity to be selective about what to collect, preserve, and, write about, and how to do so. I borrow from other fields of research and professional practice to highlight possible avenues along which to advance historiographical discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-360
JournalShofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • archive
  • personal history
  • micro-history
  • Kindertransport
  • Holocaust
  • Britain

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