archival nature

n.The characteristics that are inherent in archival documents resulting from the circumstances of their creation, including naturalness, organic nature or interrelationship, impartiality, authenticity, and uniqueness.


While the origins of the concept lie in the United Kingdom and Europe, recent exponents have been Canadian. Some archivists believe that the term implies a universality and immutability of what archives inherently are that cannot be supported by evidence. Naturalness refers to the fact that the materials accumulate out of a routine process. The organic nature or interrelationship results from the materials' functional relationships to one another within and outside each given fonds. Impartiality describes records as a means for carrying out activities they document. Authenticity relates to records with their creator. Uniqueness describes the fact that each document is related to the others within and outside the fonds of which it is a part, and to the creator of the fonds by a special relationship, which makes it unique.


Boles and Greene 1996, p. 302 [Duranti] speaks of the 'nature' of archives as a fixed and immutable reality from which true archival theory derives. The nature of archives, however, is a human postulate, based on human assumptions and logically derived from those assumptions. These postulates may vary between individuals and societies and cannot be considered an observed fact or a testable hypothesis.