Digital Archiving Resources

The Converging Histories and Futures of Libraries, Archives, and Museums as Seen through the Case of the Curious Collector Myron Eells

Title

The Converging Histories and Futures of Libraries, Archives, and Museums as Seen through the Case of the Curious Collector Myron Eells

Subject

Archives

Description

Michael J. Paulus, Jr., librarian and professor at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington, compares Myron Eells’ 19th century eclectic library and his method of recordkeeping to postmodern trends in contemporary libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs). These trends include establishing special collections of rare and unpublished materials in libraries, and developing selection policies and designing informative interfaces for public access in museums. Such activities were once considered institutionally specific, and following the implementation of standardized practices and principles for LAMs in the early 20th century, would not have occurred outside their respective institutions.

Myron Eells, minister, educator, and collector of “curiosities,” created an extensive record of the history of our country’s northwest. He accompanied his array of materials with careful documentation, adopting an ethnographic approach to indexing his materials, based in part on his many visits to museums. In addition to his collections (cabinets), he wrote books and articles describing the history of the NW territories and its people. Paulus observes while Eells was constructing his collections and writing diaries and manuscripts, the late 19th and early 20th century libraries and museums were establishing modernist principles and standards. Libraries, museums, and archives focused on highly specialized roles and kept collections and standards separate from each other. Paulus says Eells was largely oblivious of the emerging fields of library science and museum curation, and combined his artefacts with historical and fictional literature. When his library and personal papers were donated to Whitman College, the collection was dispersed between the library and museum, without regard to provenance.

With the advent of digital technology, the content, mission, and tasks of librarians, archivists, and museum curators are merging. Paulus hopes the blurring boundaries between these institutions will foster greater sharing of their collections as each adopts the other’s philosophy—to collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate information for the public. He recognizes the potential for aggregating the widely scattered collection of Myron Eells into a digital space that could recreate his desire to capture a past for future use

Creator

Paulus, Michael J.

Publisher

Libraries & the Cultural Record

Date

2011

Contributor

Polk, Victoria

Rights

University of Texas Press

Type

Journal Article

Identifier

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/libraries_and_culture/summary/v046/46.2.paulus.html

Bibliographic Citation

Paulus, Michael J., Jr. “The Converging Histories and Futures of Libraries, Archives, and Museums as Seen through the Case of the Curious Collector Myron Eells.” Libraries & the Cultural Record 46 (2011): 185-205.

Files

culrec.jpg

Collection

Citation

Paulus, Michael J. , “The Converging Histories and Futures of Libraries, Archives, and Museums as Seen through the Case of the Curious Collector Myron Eells,” Digital Archiving Resources, accessed September 25, 2017, http://dar.cah.ucf.edu/items/show/65.