Return: Translated Works in The American Archivist

Editor of The American Archivist, Gregory S. Hunter, explains in the most recent issue that “English-speaking archivists have much to learn from the professional literature of other nations.”[1] Indeed, since the 1940s, translations have graced the pages of The American Archivist. In 1941, the medieval philologist and ‘Monuments Man’ Lester K. Born presented “Baldassare Bonifacio and His Essay De Archivis,” which may have been the first English translation of Bonifacio’s Latin text from 1632.[2] Hardly a year later, in 1942, The American Archivist published Ralph Lounsbury’s “summarized translation” of the text “Resumo Histórico do Arquivo Publico de São Paulo” [“Historical Résumé of the Public Archives of the State of São Paulo”]. First printed in 1939 as an introduction to a document catalogue, the translation was, according to Lounsbury, made with “the hope that it will contribute something to our present vague and inaccurate knowledge of archival history and economy in Latin America.”[3] Between 1971 and 1990, The American Archivist featured four additional translated articles, or about 1% of the 390 identified articles published during those decades.[4] These included the translation of the Polish bulletin Brakowanie Akt into English, which Gustaw Kaleński originally penned in 1934 to train archivists in appraisal techniques at the Archiwum Dawnych (Ancient Archives) in Warsaw.[5]

Continuing this tradition, in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of The American Archivist, Bartosz Nowożycki provides an annotated translation from Polish to English of Kazimierz Konarski’s article “Program prac wewnętrznych w archiwach nowożytnych,” first published in 1927, reintroducing readers to versions of archival texts originally written in other languages besides English. While the publication of a new section entitled “Archives in Translation” represents an admirable addition to the pages of The American Archivist, the assembly of English translations of important texts from the archival literature of other nations will need to be sustained by efforts from academics and practitioners of the archival profession, both within and outside the United States.[6]

Since 2016, the Archival History Section has been developing a bibliography, A Select History of the World’s Archives, 1588-1898, which is decidedly international in scope.[7] It includes sources about archives and archival science created or published before 1899, many of which were originally published in a variety of languages. It is our hope that the incoming editor of The American Archivist, Professor Cal Lee, will be able to utilize this bibliography to continue to provide English-language translations of historically significant or exemplary contemporary works.

— Eric Stoykovich, co-editor Archival History News

[1] “Editor’s Introduction, On the Issues of Modern Polish Archival Science,” ed. Gregory S. Hunter, The American Archivist 80:1 (Spring/Summer 2017), 213, available with subscription at https://doi.org/10.17723/0360-9081.80.1.213

[2] Lester K. Born, “Baldassarre Bonifacio and His Essay ‘De Archivis’,” The American Archivist 4 (1941): 221-237, freely available at http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.4.4.36u35457n6g45825

[3] Ralph Lounsbury, “Historical Résumé of The Public Archives of The State of São Paulo, Brazil,” The American Archivist 5, no. 4 (October 1942): 245-251, freely available at http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.5.4.k33m3339112753r0

[4] Mary Sue Stephenson, “The American Archivist, 1971-1990: A Demographic Analysis of the Articles,” The American Archivist 55 (Fall 1992): 542, freely available at http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.55.4.n1318578t5461v74

[5] “Record Selection,” Gustav Kaleński (ed. Meyer Fishbein and Olga Paul), The American Archivist 39, no. 1 (January 1976), 25-43, freely available at http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.39.1.733387270g8030v4?code=same-site

[6] Other North American journals featured translations during the 20th century. For example, Archivaria’s publication of a German-to-English translation of an article by Hans Booms originally written in 1972: Hans Booms, “Society and the Formation of a Documentary Heritage: Issues in the Appraisal of Archival Sources,” Archivaria 24 (Summer 1987): 69-107, freely available at:  http://journals.sfu.ca/archivar/index.php/archivaria/article/view/11415/12357

[7] If you are interested in contributing citations to this project, please view the current bibliography here: https://goo.gl/VsrBZK. Guidelines for formatting citations can be found on the Archival History Section microsite here: https://goo.gl/CJZT0F. We welcome and encourage your comments to be made directly on the Google document.

One thought on “Return: Translated Works in The American Archivist

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  1. OK, but shouldn’t one mention also what SAA did in translating not just papers, but whole books, e.g. the Dutch Manual by Muller, Feith and Fruin (1940, reissue 2003)?

    Eric Ketelaar

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