Celebrating 300 Episodes of The Authority File: Unpacking Primary Sources

These episodes reflect on archival collection and explore primary source use in the research workflow

To celebrate The Authority File reaching 300 episodes, the Choice team put together several lists highlighting key episodes and topics. Today’s list digs into the collection, preservation, and use of primary sources. Topics include the impact of digitization, the library’s role in archival work, and, of course, dynamic examples of primary sources themselves. Enjoy!

Minds Alive book cover.  In the top half, yellow and red colors blended together. In the bottom half, black and white blended together. "Minds Alive" in yellow text; "Libraries and Archives Now" in white text. Editor names at the bottom in gray.

Episode 144: Unearthing the Library’s Value: Preserving Memory

When we look back on this year, 10, 20, or 50 years down the line, what will we remember? What will become the official narrative of 2020? What will slip between the cracks of our collective memory? (Murder hornets, hopefully.) Read more and listen here.

Episode 123: Constructing the Black Prairie Archives: “It Had Been There All Along”

Writers like Sinclair Ross and W.O. Mitchell shaped the popular image of the Canadian prairie settler as white, anglophone, and male, and the region’s image as sweeping grasslands broken by farms and small towns. The prairies in fact have a much more diverse history—and collection of writers—than the popular images suggest. Read more and listen here.

AM logo. "AM" in orange lettering against white background.

Episode 230: Primary Source Literacy: The Impact of Digitization

The abundance of materials at students’ fingertips. The pitfalls of the keyword search. The lack of serendipity in online databases. Thanks to digitization and text recognition developments, these factors now affect modern-day primary source research practices. Read more and listen here.

Episode 58: Human Relations Area Files: The History and Development of HRAF

Dr. Carol Ember, president of HRAF, and Peter N. Peregrine, professor of archaeology at Lawrence University, join Bill to talk about the history, make-up, and relevance of HRAF—and how the cultures and cultural practices contained within its million pages of information can illuminate a wide variety research areas. Read more and listen here.

HRAF logo. Against an orange background, "HRAF" in white text. To the left, a gridded globe with an arrow encircling it.

Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age book cover. Against a cream/white background, book title in green. Below the title, a futuristic/robot hand in green reaches out with palm faced up. "Edited by Susan Mizruchi" in the bottom left corner.

Episode 174: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age: Background, Forum, and Fruition

The digital age has brought an onslaught of changes to the practice of information preservation. With so much out there at a time, how can archivists keep up? How do librarians fit into the task of finding and safeguarding materials? How can archivists, curators, and librarians work together to collect, restore, and preserve information for years to come? Read more and listen here.

Episode 289: The Impact of Primary Sources on Lesbian Literature and History: Introductions and Approaching the Materials

Primary sources provide unique insights into the past. But for Rachel Friars, a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University, they also offer a context and history that informs the present. Read more and listen here.

Rachel Friars headshot. Bright yellow background. Woman with short hair, glasses, and maroon turtleneck.

Documents That Changed the Way We Live book cover. Photograph of museum with dark red ceiling, white walls with columns and two large paintings. Crowds of people below the paintings. Book title at the top over the red ceiling.

Episode 12: Documents that Changed the Way We live: The “We Can Do It!” Poster

The take-charge, cultural icon Rosie the Riveter depicted in the famous “We Can Do It” poster, it turns out, isn’t who you think she is. We’ll talk about that and how this particular document might be less of a “document that changed the world” than the other way around. Read more and listen here.

Episode 102: Toward a Global Middle Ages: Defining and Curating a Concept

Global approaches to the Middle Ages have long been part of historical and literary studies, but only over the last ten years or so has a global approach emerged within the field of art history. Bryan C. Keene of the J. Paul Getty Museum discusses the timeline of assembling his edited volume Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World through Illuminated Manuscripts, and what a “Global Middle Ages” actually means. Read more and listen here.

The Getty logo. Against a black background, "The Getty" in white text. To the left, a white square with the letters of "Getty" in black. "G" and "E" at the top, and the rest below.

Unpacking the Personal Library book cover. Sculpture of an open-faced book with a wooden frame and blocks of text missing their pieces. Has white background with book title and editor names in black text.

Episode 282: Unpacking the Personal Library: Introducing Our Guests and the Origin of Their New Book

Whether it’s a dog-eared stack of The Boxcar Children, an annotated collection of Sylvia Plath poetry, or an encyclopedic array of Guinness World Records, a personal library can reflect a holder’s academic interests, personal values, or position in a community. But more often than not, after a scholar’s death or retirement, their personal libraries face a crossroads. Read more and listen here.

Keep up with the rest of the Celebrating 300 Episodes of The Authority File posts on Choice’s blog, Open Stacks.

You can find more Authority File episodes on our websiteSpotifyStitcherApple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

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