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Vol. 75, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2012) - Society of American Archivists

Vol. 75, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2012) - Society of American Archivists

Vol. 75, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2012) - Society of American

t h e A Bm oe or k i c Ra n e v Ai er wc sh i v i s t B o o k R e v i e w s Amy Cooper Cary, Reviews Editor Controlling the Past: Documenting Society and Institutions—Essays in Honor of Helen Willa Samuels Edited by Terry Cook. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2011. 434 pages. Soft cover. $39.95, members, $56.00, nonmembers. ISBN 1-931666-36-9. Festschrift—German for “festival writing”—is the name given to a collection of essays honoring a respected colleague, generally, though not always, published during that person’s lifetime. While Festschrifts abound in academia, they are less common in the archives profession. German archivist Hans Booms, Canadian archivists Hugh Taylor and Kent Haworth, and British archival educator Michael Cook are among the very few who have been so honored by the archival community. 1 It is surely a mark of professional maturity when a profession not only honors its own, but has its own to honor. Acknowledging the value of individual contributions in the development of theory and practice and recognizing those contributions as foundations on which to build suggests a profession that not only has come of age, but that is developing a trajectory grounded in its own core concepts. While the honoree’s ideas traditionally inspire the essays in a Festschrift, it also pays homage to these ideas by extending them, re-imagining them, and taking them into the future. Such was the charge that editor Terry Cook gave to the seventeen essayists in Controlling the Past: Documenting Society and Institutions—Essays in Honor of Helen Samuels. True to the academic spirit of a Festschrift, Cook explains, “The book is not a disparate group of unrelated essays on the authors’ favorite topics gathered together to honor an esteemed colleague. Rather the essays were especially commissioned to address a unified theme: how, in documenting modern societies and the institutions, the archivist’s control of the past may be transformed in ways more appropriate for our twenty-first century world” (p. 4). On the one hand, Cook acknowledges the ground-breaking appraisal thinking of Helen Samuels, from her iconic essay, 1 Barbara L. Craig, ed.,The Archival Imagination: Essays in Honour of Hugh A. Taylor (Ottawa: Association of Canadian Archivists, 1992); Friedrich P. Kahlenberg, ed., Aus der Arbeit der Archive. Beiträge zum Archivwesen, zur Quellenkunde und zur Geschichte. Festschrift für Hans Booms (Boppard am Rhein : H. Boldt, 1989); Reuben Ware, Marion Beyea, Cheryl Avery, eds., The Power and Passion of Archives: A Festschrift in Honour of Kent Haworth (Ottawa: Association of Canadian Archivists, 2005); Margaret Proctor and Caroline Williams, eds., Essays in Honour of Michael Cook (Liverpool: University Press, 2003). The American Archivist, Vol. 75 (Spring/Summer 2012) : 241–261 241

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