We're All Archivists Now


Alexis Madrigal responds to the release of  700 Civil War portraits from The Library of Congress and sees the bigger picture:

The digital age continues to refashion what we want and expect from our cultural preservationists. The vaults at places like the Library of Congress and Smithsonian have long contained far more than could be displayed or appreciated in physical space. Curators cut a narrow path through all that information; they told tell stories. That part of the job hasn't gone away, but now we also want to be able to tell our own stories.

Cultural preservation institutions now have to enable a much broader group of individuals to use their collections, not just professionals and dedicated researchers. And I love that the Library of Congress and other repositories of knowledge are beginning to open their archives to us digital travelers.

(Image of Private Albert H. Davis of Company K, 6th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment from between 1861 and 1865)