Chapter six returns to the themes in the introduction to consider the role of the archivist and the nature of the archival endeavor, and to propose new views of both based on the ideas in the intervening chapters.
More important even than the generous financial support I received from the Mellon Foundation and NEH is the intellectual support of Francis Bluin and Bill Wallach of the Bentley Library, and of my colleagues in the 1986 Seminar - Chris Baer, Greg Bradsher, Judy Endelman, Avra Michelson and Peter Sigmond - who read and discussed drafts of these papers with me that summer and stimulated me by their own research.
Chapter five explores an idea relevant to the changes in methodology proposed in the first four chapters.
Throughout, my audience is the professional, but I do not mean simply those who work in repositories called archives.
I include here museum curators, librarians and others whose efforts are devoted to preserving cultural memory and making it available to future generations, and who frequently are also responsible for archival materials.
Because societies were enabled to extend themselves further across space and time through writing, and subsequently through the recording of sounds and images, than through the oral record, the "technology of preserved communication" has allowed for the development of a more variegated cultural repertoire.
In so doing, it has created a world so complex that no individual can possibly master it all.
The first four essays address the four fundamental activities involved in the management of the physical record: selecting an appropriate record from the great volume of evidence, preserving that record against time, describing the record that has been retained, and providing for access and use.