Archives and Information in the Early Modern World

Archives and Information in the Early Modern World

Kate Peters, Alexandra Walsham, and Liesbeth Corens

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780197266250

Publisher: British Academy


This volume investigates the relationship between archives and information in the early modern world. It explores how the physical documentation that proliferated on an unprecedented scale between the 16th and 18th centuries was managed in the context of wider innovations in the sphere of communication and of significant upheaval and change. The chapters assess how archives were implicated in patterns of statecraft and scrutinise critical issues of secrecy and publicity, access and concealment. They analyse the interconnections between documentation and geographical distance, probing the part played by record-keeping in administration, governance, and justice, as well as its links with trade, commerce, education, evangelism, and piety. Alive to how the contents of archives were organised and filed, the contributors place paper technologies and physical repositories under the microscope. Extending beyond the framework of formal institutions to the family, household, and sect, this volume offers fresh insight into the possibilities and constraints of political participation and the nature of human agency. It deepens our understanding of the role of archives in the construction and preservation of knowledge and the exercise of power in its broadest sense. Above all, it calls for greater dialogue and creative collaboration to breach the lingering disciplinary divide between historians and archival scientists.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Archives and Information in the Early Modern World

Alexandra Walsham, Kate Peters, & Liesbeth Corens

Part I Organisation and Agency

Part II Access and Secrecy

Part III Media and Materiality

Part IV Documentation and Distance


Ann Blair

End Matter