n. (provenancial, adj.)the origin or source of somethingHensen 1993, 67APPM recognizes the primacy of provenance in archival description. This principle holds that that significance of archival materials is heavily dependent on the context of their creation, and that the arrangement and description of these materials should be directly related to their original purpose and function.Duranti 1998, 177The principle of provenance, as applied to appraisal, leads us to evaluate records on the basis of the importance of the creator’s mandate and functions, and fosters the use of a hierarchical method, a “top-down” approach, which has proved to be unsatisfactory because it excludes the “powerless transactions,” which might throw light on the broader social context, from the permanent record of society.Gilliland-Swetland 2000a, 12The principle of provenance has two components: records of the same provenance should not be mixed with those of a different provenance, and the archivist should maintain the original order in which the records were created and kept. The latter is referred to as the principle of original order in English and Registraturprinzip in German. The French conception of respect des fonds did not include the same stricture to maintain original order (referred to in French as respect de l'ordre intérieure), largely because French archivists had been applying what was known as the principle of pertinence and rearranging records according to their subject content.Boles 2005, 87, fn. 11The use of the term “provenance” in a discussion of contemporary selection methodology is complicated by Terry Cook’s redefinition of the term. Traditionally it has referred in part to the physical characteristics of the records and was closely related to the concept of original order, which referred very directly to how the “stuff” existed. Cook, however would have provenance relate to the mind of the creator rather than the matter that was made as a result; thus, his title, “Mind Over Matter.”Jimerson 2009, 14The principle of provenance—based on the concept that the true significance of information contained in archives is best realized by understanding the context of activities and functions within which the records were originally created—stipulates that records originating in one office, agency, or individual must be grouped together and not intermingled with those created by any other office or individual.Nash 2010b, 77Provenance is fundamental to arrangement and description. It has two components: (1) respect des fonds and (2) original order.information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collectionPunzalan 2014, 340Part of the difficulty of tracing the story of the photographs is their context as material possessions, as objects previously held and owned by private collectors. Some photographs came to institutions as part of donations. To trace these exchanges is to tracethe photographs’ provenance. In following the principle of provenance, archivists have often subsumed and attributed the photographs under other collectors, which has obscured their origins in Worcester’s work. In other words, applying the principle of provenance to individuals who donated collections obscured the provenance based on origin (Worcester).
Provenance1 is a fundamental principle of archives, referring to the individual, family, or organization that created or received the items in a collection. The principle of provenance or the respect des fonds dictates that records of different origins (provenance) be kept separate to preserve their context.