The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
Contact Us

HIST5513 公眾歷史特別專題(檔案學):檔案的管理與理解

Semester 2 (2021-2022)

Lecture TimeMonday 6:30pm - 8:15pm

VenueYIA LT6


Lecturer CHU Fook Keung Simon (

Teaching Assistant RONG Zongliu (

Course Description

This course aims to guide history students to use archival records in historical research by introducing the unique nature and characteristics of archival records, the context in which they are created and used, the importance and constraints on using archival records in historical inquiry, the functions and activities of an archival institution and the work of a professional archivist.

Fundamental archival concepts and prevailing techniques that help organize, describe and preserve archival records as an authentic and impartial source of documentary evidence over time will be discussed. “Challenges” arising from increasing use of electronic means in conducting daily business in recent years from a perspective of historical inquiry will also be discussed.

The importance of archives in promoting and protecting social justice will also be discussed.



By completion of this module, students should be able to understand how archival work contributes to historical research, to appreciate the role and importance of archival records and to develop viable research strategy in using archival records as a source of historical evidence to reconstruct the past.


Part I: Fundamental principles and concepts

1. Documents, records and archival records

(a) Course overview

(b) What are archival records?

l Why we create records?

l From documents to records

l From records to archival records

(c) The rise of modern archives

(d) Characteristics of archival records as an historical source

(e) How archives support the work of historians?



Lester J. Cappon, “Historical Manuscripts as Archives: Some Definitions and Their Application”, American Archivist 19 (April 1956): 101-10 [Reprinted in Richard J. Cox (ed.), Lester J. Cappon and the Relationship of History, Archives, and Scholarship in the Golden Age of Archival Theory (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004), pp. 35-42].

Sue McKemmish, “Introducing Archives and Archival Program”, in Judith Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition (Port Melbourne: D. W. Thorpe in association with the Australian Society of Archives Inc, 1993), pp. 1-24.

James M. O’Toole, Understanding Archives and Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1990), Chapter 1 – “Recording, Keeping, and Using Information” and Chapter 2 – “The History of Archives and the Archives Profession”.


2. Archives, archivists and archival work

(a) Why set up archives?

(b) Archivist in a modern society: Roles, duties and professional ethics

(c) An overview of archival work

(d) Professional associations and societies of archivists



Richard J. Cox, Archives & Archivists in the Information Age (New York & London: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2005), Chapter 1 – “Why Organizations Need Archivists”.

Hilary Jenkinson, “The English Archivist: A New Profession”, in Roger H. Ellis and Peter Walne (eds.), Selected Writings of Sir Hilary Jenkinson (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2003), pp. 236-259.

James M. O’Toole, Understanding Archives and Manuscripts, Chapter 3- “The Archivist’s Perspective: Knowledge and Values” and Chapter 4 – The Archivist’s Task: Responsibility and Duties”.


Part II: Understanding the context of using archival records

3. Recordkeeping activity and archival selection

(a) Context of archival selection: records creators and recordkeeping activity

(b) The nature and purpose of archival appraisal

(c) Tools for appraisal: Acquisition policy and taxonomy of records values

(d) Functional analysis and macro-appraisal

(e) An overview of appraisal workflow

(f) Other forms of acquisition: Donation and purchasing



Frank Boles, Selecting & Appraising Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).

Barbara Craig, Archival Appraisal: Theory and Practice (München: K.G. Saur, 2004).

Angelika Menne-Haritz, Business Processes: An Archival Science Approach to Collaborative Decision Making, Records, and Knowledge Management (Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluwer, 2004).


4. Archives arrangement and description system

(a) “Provenance” and “Original Order”: Two fundamental arrangement principles

(b) Levels of archival arrangement

(c) “Fonds-based” and “series-based” description systems

(d) Introduction of prevailing archives descriptive standards

(e) Automation of archives management system



Margaret Procter and Michael Cook, Manual of Archival Description, 3rd edition (Aldershot, Hampshire: Gower, 2000), Part I – “The Nature of an Archival Description” and Part II – “The Data Structure of an Archival Description”.

Kathleen D. Roe, Arranging & Describing Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).

Clive Smith, “The Australian Series System”, Archivaria 40 (Fall 1995): 86-93.


5. How to formulate research strategy for using archival records

(a) Introduction to frequently used government archives in Hong Kong: Land records, court records, death/birth records, company files, maps, posters, photographs, video and the Carl Smith Collection

(b) Types of archival finding aids

(c) How to use archival finding aids to help historical research



Frank G. Burke, Research and the Manuscript Tradition (Lanham & London: Scarecrow Press and Chicago: SAA, 1997).

Jennifer Edgecombe, “Finding Aids”, in Judith Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, pp. 248–272.

Michael R. Hill, Archival Strategies and Techniques (Newbury Park, London & New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 1993).


Part III: The challenge of keeping and using archival records

6. Legal issues relating to access to and use of archival records

(a) Access policy of government archives in Hong Kong

(b) Data protection and copyright issues

(c) How historical research will be affected under present framework



Archives and Manuscripts, 26.2 (November 1998), Theme Issue: Recordkeeping and the Law.

Mary Jo Pugh, Providing Reference Services for Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).

Helen Smith, “Legal Responsibilities and Issues”, in Judith Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, pp. 108-136.


7. Archives legislation: The framework for the management, preservation and use of archival records

(a) Archives legislation as the framework for archival work

(b) Components of an archives legislation

(c) Development of archives legislation in Hong Kong and its neighboring countries

(d) How historical research will be affected under the present framework

(e) Social justice and archives.



Sarah Choy, “Principles for Archives and Records Legislation”, International Council on Archives Committee on Archival Legal Matters, 2006.

Christine Loh etal., Managing Public Records for Good Governance and Preservation of Collective Memory: The Case for Archival Legislation, Civic Exchange, 2007.


8. Electronic record: A nightmare to archivists and historians

(a) Technology development and the emergency of e-Government and e-Business

(b) Components of a complete records: Content, Context and Structure

(c) What are the problems of electronic records?

(d) How historians suffer the consequences?



Luciana Duranti, Terry Eastwood and Heather MacNeil, Preservation of the Integrity of Electronic Records (Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluwer, 2002).

Seamus Ross, “The Expanding World of Electronic Information and the Past’s Future”, in Edward Higgs (ed.), History and Electronic Artefacts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 5-28.

Jeff Rothenberg, Avoiding Technological Quicksand: Finding a Viable Technical Foundation for Digital Preservation (Washington, DC : Council on Library and Information Resources, 1999).


Part IV: Wrap-up, visit and discussion

9. Oral presentation

Students are required to visit one of the local archival institutions in order to acquire practical experience as users of original sources. After the visit, students are required to write a visit report to describe their experience of using archival records and assess the significance and possible limitation of archival records as a source of historical evidence. In this session, students will be given 10-15 minutes each to present their findings.


10. OPTIONAL Field Trip: Visiting archives in neighboring territories

An optional visit to national, provincial and municipal archives in China will be arranged for interested students. Subject to their confirmation, the First Historical Archives (Beijing), Shanghai Municipal Archives, Second Historical Archives (Nanjing), Guangdong Provincial Archives, and Guangzhou City Archives are to be visited. Through the visits, management practices of and archival materials relating to Hong Kong in these archives will be introduced to students.


The theme for discussion and presentation is : “Human Right Archives”

  • Students are required to research into the nature of human right archives and their social and political functions, especially their role in the pursuit of justice;
  • Students should be prepared to participate and discuss the issues in the tutorials.  

Book List: Suggested for Procurement


Part I. Core Text

Bettington, J., et al (eds)Keeping Archives, 3rd. ed. Australian Society of Archivists, 2008.

Brown, C., Archives and Records Keeping: Theory into Practice, Facet, 2013.

CapponLester J. , “Historical Manuscripts as Archives: Some Definitions and Their Application”, American Archivist 19 (April 1956): 101-10 [Reprinted in Richard J. Cox (ed.), Lester J. Cappon and the Relationship of History, Archives, and Scholarship in the Golden Age of Archival Theory , Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004 , pp. 35-42.

Carmichael, David, Organizing Archival Records: A Practical Method of Arrangement and Description for Small Archives, AltaMira Press, 2012.

Cox, R., Managing Records as Evidence and Information, Quorum Books, 2000.

Cox, R. and Wallace, D., (eds), Archives and the Public Good : Accountability and Records in Modern Society, Quorum Books, 2002.

JenkinsonHilary , “The English Archivist: A New Profession”, in Roger H. Ellis and Peter Walne (eds.), Selected Writings of Sir Hilary Jenkinson , Society of American Archivists, Chicago, 2003, pp. 236-259.

Millar, Laura AgnesArchives : Principles and Practices, Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2nd ed., 2017

Schellenberg, T.R.Modern Archives : Principles and Techniques, 1956 (First Published), 2003 (Republished).

Williams, C., Managing Archives: Foundations, Principles and Practices, Chandos, 2006. 


Part II. Reference

I.     Books

(1) Benedict, Karen. Ethics and the Archival Profession: Introduction and Case Studies (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2003).

(2) Boles, Frank. Selecting & Appraising Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).

(3) Cox, Richard J. The First Generation of Electronic Records Archivists in the United States: A Study in Professionalism (New York, London & Norwood: The Haworth Press, Inc., 1994).

(4) Cox, Richard J. Archives & Archivists in the Information Age (New York & London: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2005).

(5) Cox, Richard J. Closing an Era: Historical Perspectives on Modern Archives and Records Management (Westport, Connecticut & London: Greenwood Press, 2000).

(6) Cox, Richard J. (ed.) Lester J. Cappon and the Relationship of History, Archives, and Scholarship in the Golden Age of Archival Theory (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004).

(7) Cox, Richard J. & David A. Wallace, Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society (Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002).

(8) Craig, Barbara. Archival Appraisal: Theory and Practice (München: K.G. Saur, 2004).

(9) Duranti, Luciana & Terry Eastwood and Heather MacNeil. Preservation of the Integrity of Electronic Records (Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluwer, 2002).

(10) Ellis, Roger H. & Peter Walne (eds.). Selected Writings of Sir Hilary Jenkinson (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2003).

(11) Gottschalk, Louis. Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method, 2ndedition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969).

(12) Higgs, Edward (ed.) History and Electronic Artefacts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

(13) Jenkinson, Hilary. A Manual of Archive Administration, 2nd edition (London: Percy Lund, Humphries and Co., 1965).

(14) Justrell, Bőrje. What Is This Thing We Call Archival Science? A Report on an International Survey (Stockholm: The National Archives of Sweden, 1999).

(15) Lipinski, Tomas A. (ed.), Libraries, Museums, and Archives: Legal Issues and Ethical Challenges in the New Information Era (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002).

(16) MacNeil, Heather. Trusting Records: Legal, Historical, and Diplomatic Perspectives (Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluwer, 2000).

(17) Mitchell, Thornton W. (ed.) Norton on Archives: The Writings of Margaret Cross Norton on Archival & Records Management (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1975).

(18) Padfield, Tim. Copyright for Archivists and Users of Archives, 2nd edition (London: Facet Publishing, 2004).

(19) Posner, Ernst. Archives in the Ancient World (Boston, Mass.: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1972).

(20) Pugh, Mary Jo. Providing Reference Services for Archives & Manuscripts(Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).

(21) Ritzenthaler, Mary Lynn. Preserving Archives and Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1993).

(22) Roe, Kathleen D. Arranging & Describing Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005).


II.   Journals

(1) The American Archivist, published by the Society of American Archivists.

(2) Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information, published by Springer.

(3) Archivaria, Published by the Association of Canadian Archivists.

(4) Archives and Manuscripts, published by the Australian Society of Archivists.

(5) Comma: International Journal on Archives, published by the International Council on Archives.

(6) Janus, published by the International Council on Archives.

(7) Journal of Archival Organization, published by the Haworth Information Press.

(8) Records & Information Management Report, published by M.E. Sharpe.


Part III. Archives and Information Management: Resources on the Internet 

I. Serv List and Mailing List

Archives & Archivists List (ARCHIVES)

Records Management Program List (RECMGMT-L)

Management & Preservation of Electronic Records List (ERECS-L)

Aus-archivists mailing list

Arcan-l mailing list


II. Resource List/portal

Records & Information Management Resource List

UNESCO archives Portal

UNESCO RAMP (Records and Archives Management Programme) Studies

Stanford University. Conservation On-Line (CoOL)

New York State Archives – Publication

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) – Publications

Research Libraries Group (RLG) – Publications


III. Certification authorities

Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA)>

Records Managers: Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM)

Electronic Records Management (ERM) Certificate Program – AIIM


IV. Professional Societies and Associations


International Council on Archives (ICA)

Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA)

Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM)

International Records Management Trust (IRMT)



East Asian Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (EASTICA):


National (or territorial)

Society of American Archivists (SAA):

Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA)

Australian Society of Archivists

Chinese Archives Society

Hong Kong Archives Society


V. Archival Institutions

National Archives and Records Administration, US (NARA)

National Archives of UK

Library and Archives Canada

National Archives of Australia (NAA)

State Archives Administration of China (SAAC)

National Archives Administration, Republic of China  

Macao Historical Archives

Public Records Office of Hong Kong


Field Trip


Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

Back to top