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Diplomatics; New uses for an old science

TitelDiplomatics; New uses for an old science
AuteursDuranti, L.
UitgeverSociety of American Archivists and Association of Canadian Archivists in Association with The Scarecrow Press, Inc
Plaats uitgaveLanham, Maryland, and London
ISBN Nummer0-8108-3528-2
Trefwoord(en)archivistiek, authenticiteit, betrouwbaarheid, diplomatiek, documentanalyse, oorkondenleer
"The most vital question" for contemporary archivists is what constitutes the body of knowledge that belongs to and identifies their profession. While the education of European archivists, although incorporating historical, administrative, and legal elements, is founded on diplomatics and paleography. 
North American archivists have grounded their work essentially on the knowledge of history and the history of administration. Nevertheless, often without fully realizing it, in a natural way, the latter have paid attention to the object of diplomatics and paleography, namely the forms and script of documents, even if unsystematically and inconsistently, more feeling their way than seeing it. This happened not only because an archives is a whole constituted of parts and it is impossible to understand and control the whole without understanding and controlling its parts, even the most elemental of them, but also because of the historical knowledge of North American archivists. In fact, history, and particularly the history of administration and law, like paleography and archival science, derived as scientific disciplines which use primary sources from diplomatics, and, in the
process of becoming autonomous sciences in their own right, used principles and methodologies of diplomatics and paleography and adapted them to their own purposes,  incorporating them into their own methods. As a consequence of these developments, diplomatics as an independent science came to restrict its area of enquiry to the chronological limits of the medieval period, joining paleography which was confined within those same limits by the object of its study. 
However, the principles, concepts, and methods of diplomatics are universally valid and can bring system and objectivity to archival research into documentary forms, that is, a higher scientific quality. It is well known that the archivist's research into the nature or character of  records has purposes different from that of the historian. Thus it is not advisable for archivists to adopt diplomatic methodology as it has been filtered through the needs of scholars of history.
Rather, it is appropriate for them to extract directly from the original science of diplomatics those elements and insights which can be used for their work, and to develop them to meet contemporary needs.

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