Rethinking original order and personal records

Jennifer Meehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This article presents a different theoretical approach to considering and implementing the concept of original order in the arrangement and description of personal records. As currently conceived, original order does not address the physical realities of personal records and results in approaches that, whether in extending the concept by analogy or rejecting it outright, fail to adequately contextualize personal records. Concentrating on the theoretical aspects of the concept and the spirit behind the principle, this article rethinks original order as a conceptual framework for elucidating context, and suggests how it facilitates a top-down approach for analyzing a body of personal records regardless of whether or not there is a consistent, discernible order. By focusing attention on the relationships between records and activities, original order as a conceptual framework enables the archivist to better interpret and represent key factors relating to personal recordkeeping, custodial history, and archival intervention, which over time shape the meanings of a personal fonds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-44
Number of pages18
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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