¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 It may sound strange that this contribution deals with taxis and their drivers. What do taxi drivers have to do with Public History? Actually, they have much more to do with it than one might see at a first glance, once we enter the world of metaphorical equivalents. The idea for this text stems from reading a tweet that was posted by Jessamy Carlson. She works at the National Archives in London and posted the following tweet during the British Archives & Records Association conference in 2011: “Archivists must be the taxi drivers of knowledge, directing people to interesting and innovative places they might like to see.” As soon as we enter the field of metaphors, many questions arise. In this particular case, the most pressing for my situation was: If they – the archivists – conceive themselves as taxi drivers of historical knowledge who take people to places of historical interest (to paraphrase Carlson) – then what are we history educators? Are we bus drivers who get groups of people (i.e., students) on a tight schedule (i.e., timetable) to places where they more or less want to be, but that are held important and interesting by the management of the bus company (i.e., ministerial curriculum authors)? Or are we taxi drivers as well? And if so, do we belong to a competing company – or to the same one? What would represent the traffic system in this case? And, after all, do both sides see this metaphorical situation in the same way? Of course, using metaphors takes us only so far. You easily can get lost – and not in a metaphorical way, even though you might have experienced getting lost with taxis and busses as well. So let’s stop using metaphors for now and get into the matter more thoroughly: What are the following considerations about? The first question is: Why are archives engaging in history education? And what for? This leads inevitably to the underlying question: Why should this self-conception of archivists as taxi drivers of knowledge, presented by a British archivist in a tweet, be of any concern to Public History, to history education, and to history educators in the first place? We live in a free society – and should we not be glad about anyone who is willing to support the tedious task of history education? Before I get to this last question, let me try to find preliminary answers to the first one: Why are archives interested in history education? What are their objectives and their means? And to what extent do the current conditions within the field of Public History affect their efforts? I will try to probe these topics in three very different areas. I hope they will culminate in convincing or at least plausible findings, because it must be clear that I am exploring this matter from a history educator’s point of view, which is an outsider’s view, in this case. So bear with me if my presentation lacks some consistency in its rationale. I will start by examining the matter in question on a historical scale. Then I want to suggest taking a look at architectural aspects that might offer some insights. And, finally, I want to close with some remarks on the impact of the digital change that we are currently witnessing.
Archivpädadogik – or how archives became history educators
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 So let’s do what historians do most of the time when they encounter a problem to be solved: They turn to history and ask how it all evolved, i.e., where it all began. In this particular case, this question must be answered first in a biographical way. There are two reasons why the role of archives in history education began to interest me: One is a personal experience that I had during the last two years through contacts with two archives in our region. The other one is a concept, a term, that I found while preparing this presentation. This might well be very typical for how discussions about Public History arise. They do not necessarily stem from theoretical consideration but may just spring to life in the context of our social relationships. Three years ago, I asked the archive of Aargau whether I could bring my students from the school of education to the archive, to give them an insight about how history is being made. With great joy I found that the colleagues at the archive were not only very friendly about complying with my request but even showed explicit interested in having more teachers at the archives. They asked whether these visits to the archive could become a regular part of our educational curriculum for history teachers. The same thing happened at the archive of Basel-Stadt. Subsequently, I learned that my colleagues from the archive were even offering specific classes for teachers within the continuing education program of our canton. At this point, I started to wonder about the reasons – and the consequences. The second reason why I became interested in the history of the archival activities related to history education was a German term that I encountered during my talks with the colleagues at the archives: Archivpädagogik. There is no English translation; instead, the term “educational services” is used in the United Kingdom, but this captures only part of the meaning. The term comprises all activities undertaken by an archive with the aim of giving people the opportunity to learn from the past – especially by using the documents (a.k.a. sources) stored in the archives, but also by using the skills and the knowhow of the archivists to find the documents they might need. These offerings are not only targeted at individuals but also at schools: either at classes or at teachers who could bring students with them on a field trip. When I started to explore the matter, the first thing I found out was that it would be nice to have more time to spend exploring the issue in depth. Unfortunately, time has been scarce, so I can only offer a preliminary view, a sketch with broad brush strokes. Not very surprisingly, I also found that the situation differs from one country to another. But, still, there are some similarities that lead to a general view.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 There were early efforts during the nineteenth century to open archives to an interested public. But only after World War II did the archival community start to place more interest on providing teachers, in particular, with insights into how archives work and how they could help teachers to teach history to students. In France, Charles Braibant introduced the concept of the “service educatif” that systematically brought literally thousands of teachers to the archives and granted them an insight into the daily tasks of an archive. Based on this example, archivists in other countries started to discuss a more thorough form of educational activities in and through archives, namely in the Netherlands and the German Democratic Republic in the 1960s. In the 1970s there were official recommendations in the United Kingdom that underscored the importance of the educational work of archives. In the United States, the field of “outreach” activities of archives became more important after the bicentennial of the American Revolution, even though these activities mainly consisted of publications and exhibitions, whilst the possibilities of touring students were merely mentioned. But nowhere (as far as I can see) did such considerations have more impact than in Western Germany. Two aspects deserve to be pointed out: the activities of the „Geschichtswerkstätten“ [“History Workshops”], a grass roots movement that used the archives because of its interest in regional and local history. And, of course, the „Geschichtswettbewerb des Bundespräsidenten“ [“History competition of the Federal President”] that sent hundreds of thousands of students to the archives to search for, work with, and demonstrate sources in order to corroborate their findings in the contributions that they submitted. In the years that followed, and especially since the 1990s, there has been an ongoing dynamic development of educational services throughout Germany. There has been a mutual participation of archivists and history educators in this development. Long lists of specialized publications and dedicated sections of professional associations are evidence for this perception. And even though there have been similar developments in other countries, especially in France, the Netherlands, and Russia, Eckhardt’s conclusion in his 30-year-old report still seems to describe the current situation appropriately: “That service to education is an integral part of the archivist’s functions […] seems to be a matter of almost general consensus today, although there are still wide differences in the degree to which this postulate has been put into effect.” Educational services in archives still are some kind of “extra”. They have not yet been established as an integral part of the expected tasks of archives.
Buildings – and what they tell
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 But what could be the obstructions that prevent archives from realizing their plans and their aims? I would say that they stem from a deeply rooted self-concept of how the archives relate to the public. A very basic and visually stunning way to find out about the relationship between archives and the public is to analyze how architects conceived archival buildings. So, I now invite you to take a quick glance at some of those buildings. Please form your own opinion about how you would judge the buildings in terms of how they depict the relationship between the institutions they house and the public. In image 1, you see the federal archives of Switzerland in Berne, completed in 1899. In image 2, the national archives of the United States of America in Washington (DC), completed 1937. Image 3 shows the federal archive of the Federal Republic of Germany in Koblenz, completed 1986. And image 4 is the national archives of France at Pierrefitte sur Seine, in the northern suburbs of Paris, completed 2013.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 I don’t know what you think of those buildings. So I will have to take into account that you might disagree. But my personal take on this short series would be that not much has changed over the last one hundred years with regard to the way these archives show their connection to the public through their architecture. Let me explain with a local example. In image 5 you can see the cantonal archive of the Canton Basel-Stadt – the “Staatsarchiv Basel-Stadt”. It was completed 1899 and was the first dedicated building to house an archive in Switzerland. I am leaving out further comments on why the government of Basel built an archive that looks as if it has been built in the sixteenth century. It has to do with the fact that the archive was built as an appendix to the renaissance town hall of Basel. I just want to make the point that this building (like the others we saw before) tries to convince the spectator: Everything is safe here, trust us, your highly esteemed and very valuable records and archival documents won’t get into the wrong hands!! This contrasts, somehow, with the aims of educational services, with which archives want to convince the user that archives are open and welcoming.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 As I mentioned, the archive of Basel-Stadt was built 1899. Now, in 2015, the Canton of Basel-Stadt needs a new building for its archive – there are too many records, too many documents to store. So, it just recently (in August 2015) presented the following plans for a new building. The cantonal authorities plan to build a new archive close to the industrial area of Basel, which is supposed to house not only the cantonal archive but the museum of natural history as well. That’s why both „Museum“ and „Archiv“ are written on the building that you see in image 6. As you can see, there is quite a contrast to the building we have just seen – and not only because you can see actual people in front of the archive.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 I like to point out that, on one hand, there is no fence around the building. On the other hand, you may notice that the public rooms for the users are situated on the second floor, where you just see a wall of windows. This is an architectural solution that shows transparency at its utmost extent. Of course, the records are not stored up there; they are stored safely underground: the building has several basement floors. At the end of this small case study, we might conclude that there have been changes in the conceptions of how archives want to relate to the public: they want to present themselves as open, transparent, and accessible institutions, more than just safeguards for old documents. But changes in the way how institutions relate to the public seem much easier to put down in conceptual papers, strategic objectives, and task descriptions than into practice, where the institutional conditions and spatial constraints might prove to be persistent obstacles. And these hindering conditions do not necessarily have to be of an architectural nature alone: They can also be of a mental nature in either the people who operate or use the archives.
The archives and the digital change
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 In the past twenty years, all efforts to change the character of archives and their services have been impacted by digital change. At first glance, the internet seems to offer an easy way to implement these changes. Becoming an open and accessible institution seems to be merely a matter of first putting your archival documents on a scanner and then on a website. And there have been considerable efforts by various archives to put huge amounts of digitalized documents at the disposal of the public. But there are some aspects to consider that complicate this seemingly easy task. The motive of introducing educational services originated in the idea that the non-professional user needed help to figure out how to find the required documents and how to deal with them correctly. Just putting documents online will not do. The user needs some sort of guidance. Of course, archives are aware of this. And there are ways to respond to this challenge: For one, build an online introduction on how to use the archive. Some archives have developed such introductory sections on their web sites, although none in such a thorough fashion as the project “Ad fontes” at the University of Zurich. There you find not only introductory modules on how to use an archive but training modules as well, with which you can learn about and practise transliterating sources. Other tools focus on enhancing the search possibilities. Another interesting approach is to use meta search engines that allow one to search within the databases of several archives at once. More recently, archives have started to use the new opportunities offered by social media tools to interact with the public. Social media give archives the opportunity to put the aims of accessibility, transparency, and the free flow of information better into effect. It has never been easier for the public to get in touch with an archive or for the archives to get in touch with the public. But much experience has to be collected and evaluated and many questions have to be answered. On the other hand there is a revival (or maybe the persistence) of the “real physical thing”, the authentic document that you can hold and touch and that actually has survived time and decay. The wish to see and touch the authentic documents is more a wish of the users than of the archives. But the archives happily grant these wishes, because it helps to draw attention to the work of archives. Therefore, the lines between museums and archives, as keepers of auratic, authentic objects that promise to grant access to the past, continue to blurr.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Thus, it seems as if the digital change helps archives to pursue the aims of the educational services more efficiently. But there is still the question of total costs and the financial resources available. The digital change does not come for free. Numerous smaller and midsized archives suffered essential cutbacks in recent years and are not capable of extending their services beyond their previous offers. Therefore, both public expectations, driven by new possibilities of the digital change, and the alteration in their self-conception lead to a difficult situation for archives, and for history educators as well. One might think that there would be no problems if archives opened up to the public in general and to schools and students in particular. This should be a welcome way of expanding the public history space for the good of all, and especially for the purposes of history education. But this concept of an expanding public history space can only be applied to a society without any restraints regarding the availability of resources to do so. There is only so much time, staff, and money available, and the possibilities of actually implementing history education within the framework of school institutions are limited. So there seems to be an inevitable trade-off: for every hour that students spend in archives, one they could have spent on traditional history education in the classroom is lost. The only way to resolve this dilemma is to tie these two specific areas of history education together. In Switzerland, working at archives has become a compulsory part of the revised new curriculum “Lehrplan 21”. This does not solve the problem of limited resources, but it offers a more specific incentive to look for topics that can be used in both realms of history education.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Carlson, Jessamy. “Archivists must be the taxi drivers of knowledge.” @jessamycarlson, August 31, 2011. Accessed December 28, 2015. twitter.com/jessamycarlson/status /108889818485891073.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Eckhardt, Franz Georg. Archives and education. A RAMP study with guidelines. General information programme and UNISIST, UNESCO. Paris, 1986. Accessed December 12, 2015. unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0007/000709/070930eo.pdf.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Frindt, Stefan, and Ludwig Brake. Schülererfahrungen in der Archivarbeit: Zur Rolle und Bedeutung der Kommunalarchive beim Geschichtswettbewerb des Bundespräsidenten. In Profilierung der Kommunalarchive durch Historische Bildungsarbeit: Beiträge des 18. Fortbildungsseminars der Bundeskonferenz der Kommunalarchive (BKK) in Wolfsburg Vom 9. – 11. November 2009, edited by Marcus Stumpf, and Katharina Tiemann. Münster: Landschaftsverb. Westfalen-Lippe, LWL-Archivamt für Westfalen, 2010, 93-108.
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Gerig, Karen N. Ein Turm mit Bar ziert den Neubau des Naturhistorischen Museums. Tageswoche, August 19, 2015. Accessed December 12, 2015. www.tageswoche.ch/de /2015_34/kultur/696397/.
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Grotrian, Etta. Geschichtswerkstätten und alternative Geschichtspraxis in den achtziger Jahren. In History sells!, edited by Wolfgang Hardtwig, 243-253. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2009.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Hager, Joshua. “To Like or Not to Like: Understanding and Maximizing the Utility of Archival Outreach on Facebook. The American Archivist 78, no. 1 (2015): 18–37.
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 Hagmann, Daniel. “Taxidienste für Basels Geschichte: Zur Rolle von Archiven für die Regionalgeschichtsschreibung. Basler Zeitschrift Für Geschichte Und Altertumskunde 112 (2012): 33–42.
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Klose, Dieter, Roswitha Link, Joachim Pieper, Clemens Rehm, and Günther Rohdenburg. Archivpädagogische Perspektiven – Eine europäische Bilanz. Tagung für Archivpädagogik in Bocholt. Der Archivar. Zeitschrift für Archivwesen 57, no. 3 (2004): 208–16.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Körber-Stiftung. Geschichtswettbewerb des Bundespräsidenten: Porträt. Accessed December 12, 2015. www.koerber-stiftung.de/bildung/geschichtswettbewerb /portraet.html.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Pairo, Jane Meredith. Developing an archival outreach program. Georgia Archive 10, no. 1 (1982). Accessed December 12, 2015. digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/georgia _archive/vol10/iss1/3 (last accessed 12/12/2015).
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Pederson, Ann. Archival outreach: SAA’s 1976 survey. American Archivist 42, no. 2 (1978): 155–62. Accessed December 12, 2015. americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf /10.17723/aarc.41.2.l2070166pt18j487.
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0  Thanks to Daniel Hagmann for drawing my attention to this tweet, see Daniel Hagmann, “Taxidienste Für Basels Geschichte: Zur Rolle von Archiven für die Regionalgeschichtsschreibung,” Basler Zeitschrift Für Geschichte Und Altertumskunde 112 (2012).
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0  Jessamy Carlson, “Archivists must be the taxi drivers of knowledge,” @jessamycarlson, August 31, 2011, accessed December 28, 2015, twitter.com/jessamycarlson/status/108889818485891073.
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0  Cf. Franz Georg Eckhardt, Archives and Education. A RAMP Study with Guidelines. General Information Programme and UNISIST, UNESCO (Paris, 1986) accsessed December 12, 2015, unesdoc.unesco.org/images /0007/000709/070930eo.pdf, 5-8.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0  Cf. Elsie Freeman Freivogel, “Education Programs: Outreach as an Administrative Function,” American Archivist 42, no. 2 (1978). and: Ann Pederson, “Archival Outreach: SAA’s 1976 Survey,” American Archivist 42, no. 2 (1978), accessed December 12, 2015, americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.41.2.l2070166pt18j487.
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0  Cf. Jane Meredith Pairo, “Developing an archival outreach program,” Georgia Archive 10, no. 1 (1982), accessed December 12, 2015, digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/georgia_archive/vol10/iss1/3..
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0  About the impact of the Geschichtswerkstätten on the development of the Archivpädagogik cf. Lange and Lux, Historisches Lernen Im Archiv, 38-43. For the history of the Geschichtswerkstätten cf. Etta Grotrian, “Geschichtswerkstätten und alternative Geschichtspraxis in den achtziger Jahren,” in History sells!, ed. Wolfgang Hardtwig (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2009).
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0  Cf. Körber-Stiftung, “Geschichtswettbewerb des Bundespräsidenten: Porträt,” accessed December 12, 2015, www.koerber-stiftung.de/bildung/geschichtswettbewerb/portraet.html. Also, especially regarding the impact of the Geschichtswettbewerb on the development of the Archivpädagogik cf. Stefan Frindt and Ludwig Brake, “Schülererfahrungen in der Archivarbeit: Zur Rolle und Bedeutung der Kommunalarchive beim Geschichtswettbewerb des Bundespräsidenten,” in Profilierung der Kommunalarchive durch Historische Bildungsarbeit: Beiträge des 18. Fortbildungsseminars der Bundeskonferenz der Kommunalarchive (BKK) in Wolfsburg Vom 9. – 11. November 2009, eds. Marcus Stumpf and Katharina Tiemann (Münster: Landschaftsverb. Westfalen-Lippe, LWL-Archivamt für Westfalen, 2010).
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0  Visit the website of the section „Archivpädagogik und historische Bildungsarbeit“ (established 1988) of the Association of German Archivists (Verband deutscher Archivare) accessed December 12, 2015, www.archivpaedagogen.de/startseite.html. and there, the bibliography section, accessed December 12, 2015, www.archivpaedagogen.de/bibliographie.html.
¶ 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0  Cf. T. Lange’s overview based on the first European conference on archival educational services: Lange and Lux, Historisches Lernen Im Archiv, 33-35. Another good account: Dieter Klose, Roswitha Link, Joachim Pieper, Clemens Rehm, and Günther Rohdenburg, “Archivpädagogische Perspektiven – Eine europäische Bilanz. Tagung für Archivpädagogik in Bocholt,” Der Archivar. Zeitschrift für Archivwesen 57, no. 3 (2004).
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Unfortunately, all efforts for a joint European initiative on archival educational services seem to have been abandoned; the website www.elan-net.info (ELAN = Educational Learning in Archives Network) was only up and running from 2003 to 2006, according to archives.org, where the last screenshot as of 29 June 2006 can be found, accessed December 12, 2015, web.archive.org/web/20060629202618/http://elan-net.info/..
¶ 44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0  Eckhardt’s findings are still the only international survey of archival activities regarding history education that also consider nations outside Europe: cf. Eckhardt, Archives and Education.
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0  Because the assumption that I present here cannot claim to be more than a mere glance at the obvious first impression, it makes no sense to elaborate on theories of architectural analysis. Nevertheless, it should be stated that the approach in this article is rather a phenomenological, not a semiotic one. Therefore, it is close to Robert Scruton’s attempts to analyze architecture, but without his conservatist views (cf. Roger Scruton, The Aesthetics of Architecture. Princeton Essays on the Arts 8 (Princeton, N.J: Princeton Univ. Press, 1979). The concept of Havik might be more useful for analyzing the buildings of archives. She suggests three categories of analysis: description, transcription, and prescription. Description is understood in a phenomenological way, transcription focuses on the social use of space and building, whilst prescription is about imagining spatial arrangements that are not yet in place. In this sense, the statements in this article clearly belong to the category “description”, whereas analyses in the categories of transcription and prescription still have to be performed (cf. Klaske Havik, Urban Literacy: Reading and Writing Architecture (Rotterdam: Nai010 Publishers, 2014).)
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0  Cf. Karen N. Gerig, “Ein Turm mit Bar ziert den Neubau des Naturhistorischen Museums,” Tageswoche, August 19, 2015, accessed December 12, 2015, www.tageswoche.ch/de/2015_34/kultur/696397/.
¶ 48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0  But interestingly enough, it was a library, not an archive, that put the first exhaustive collection of historical sources on a dedicated website: 1995, the Library of Congress launched the American Memory Website, accessed December 12, 2015, memory.loc.gov/ammem/about/index.html.
¶ 49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0  A very thorough one at the National Archives of the United Kingdom,accessed December 12, 2015, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/start-here. Also worth noting: National Archives of the USA, accessed December 12, 2015, www.archives.gov/research/start/..
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0  Ad fontes has won several awards over the last few years. Unfortunately, it is only available in German. You must register to use all the modules of the project, accessed December 12, 2015, www.adfontes.uzh.ch..
¶ 51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0  For example, the Archives Portal Europe,accessed December 12, 2015, www.archivesportaleurope.net. or the Swiss-based website archives online, accessed December 12, 2015, www.archivesonline.org..
¶ 52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0  Cf. the results of a recent survey with twenty-three archivists in the United States: Joshua Hager, “To Like or Not to Like: Understanding and Maximizing the Utility of Archival Outreach on Facebook,” The American Archivist 78, no. 1 (2015).
¶ 53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0  Cf. for a summary about the role of authenticity in museums (though with no mention of objects in archives): Achim Saupe, “Authenticity. Version 3.0.” Docupedia.de, April 12, 2016. http://docupedia.de/zg/Authenticity_.28english_version.29?oldid=108984.