Un/Mediated : access to human rights records in context

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Darnall, Kathryn Irene

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This thesis, based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted at the Guatemalan National Police Archive in Guatemala City (AHPN), explores how knowledge of archival context is instantiated within the AHPN's reference processes. The AHPN, an archive that has re-created the original record keeping of the National Police, has also created specific tools and behaviors that allow archivists to successfully search through the archive. By focusing upon tacit decision-making processes of reference archivists in the completion of responding to information requests, I demonstrate how archivists translate discrete pieces of information into the hierarchical structure of the Guatemalan National Police Archive. By placing the work processes of the reference archivist within the larger context of the archive, I demystify the processes of searching for information while firmly establishing the value of archival context in creating meaning from the archive. Within this thesis, I highlight key elements of archival context that aid reference archivists in their search for documents, with the intention of opening up opportunities for users to employ these same methods within their own research projects.



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