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The Early Modern Secretary and the Early Modern Archive

The Early Modern Secretary and the Early Modern Archive

Chapter:
(p.105) 5 The Early Modern Secretary and the Early Modern Archive
Source:
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World
Author(s):
Arnold Hunt
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.003.0005

It was the secretary who handled the delivery of incoming letters, drafted and copied outgoing correspondence, filed papers for retention and, quite literally, held the keys to his master's secrets. This chapter reviews the current state of scholarship on the early modern secretary and asks what we can learn from the material traces that these invisible technicians left on the documents that passed through their hands. Secretaries sought to differentiate themselves from mere clerks by developing a more sophisticated range of techniques for the handling and retrieval of written documents, and the rise of the secretary as a distinct profession was therefore accompanied by the emergence of a new technology of the archive.

Keywords:   secretaries, archives, secrecy, filing, notebooks, indexing, state papers, clerks

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