Recent critics have argued that archival work is inherently too simplistic for theoretical discussion. Careful definition of terms and systematic analysis of historical development demonstrates that archivists can benefit from the conscious development of general principles to explain and analyze in ways that solve problems and redress past mistakes. Archives is a metadiscipline in an applied context, whose theory embraces elements from the humanities, science, and organizational theory. The author proposes a general theory or mission statement for archivists that balances their administrative responsibilities with their duty to insure the development of a documentary heritage.

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