Writing in the 1990s, Rodney Breen, then archivist and records manager of Save the Children, described a ‘culture of voluntarism’ towards recordkeeping endemic across the voluntary sector in the UK. More recent scholarship has made similar observations arguing that recordkeeping remains a low priority for many organisations suggesting little has changed since at least the 1990s, and likely earlier. The relationship between organisations and the creation, management and keeping records within the private sector has attracted some attention within information studies. In this paper, I seek to expand upon the concept of ‘recordkeeping cultures’ presented by the archival scholars Gillian Oliver and Fiorella Foscarini to include charities and voluntary sector organisations. Using Child Action Northwest (formerly Blackburn Orphanage) as a case study, this paper considers how recordkeeping cultures might differ in the voluntary sector to their private sector counterparts and how recordkeeping cultures might shift overtime.
Paul Beard is an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership student at UCL and The National Archives. His research project titled “Charity and Voluntary Sector Archives at Risk: Contextualising and Conceptualising a neglected archives sector” is examining the recordkeeping practices of voluntary sector organisations in England. Prior to undertaking this PhD, he worked for 10 years as an information manager and archivist in cultural charities and museums.
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