n. The study of the creation, form, and transmission of records, and their relationship to the facts represented in them and to their creator, in order to identify, evaluate, and communicate their nature and authenticity.


The first major work on diplomatics is Jean Mabillon's De Re Diplomatica (1681; supplement, 1704). Diplomatics is primarily concerned with the process of determining whether a document is authentic or a forgery through a detailed examination of internal and external characteristics.


Duranti 1998, p. 177 Diplomatics gives importance to the broad context of creation by emphasizing the significance of the juridical system (that is, the social body plus the system of rules which constitute the context of the records), the persons creating the records, and the concepts of function, competence, and responsibility; but never distances itself from the reality of the records. Eastwood 1993, p. 242 The historian uses diplomatics as a tool of interpretation, but the archivist uses it for its value for understanding the universal characteristics of the archival document. Park 2001, p. 271 Archival science derives its construction of authenticity through the management of aggregates of records with reference to their functional, procedural, and documentary contexts from the principles of diplomatics. Diplomatics, a parent discipline to archival science and legal theory that was developed to authenticate medieval documents, examines the genesis and form of individual documents. The diplomatic understanding of authenticity is that a document is authentic when it is what it claims to be.